Until now a gag order was placed on reporters. Today visiting Judge Boscom Bentley opened the doors to reporters and their cameras. The exchange followed, " Mr. Eubanks, how do you plea in charge of murder?" " Guilty." " Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?" " Only because I'm guilty. "
The judge set forth with the consequences. " What is the state's recommendation?" District Attorney Stephanie Stephens responded, " The state recommends, your honor, the state recommends 35 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. " Eubanks could be eligible for parole in about 16 and a half years, based on time he's already served. The plea has been a consideration for six months. Details were worked out in the jury room right up to Eubanks' court room appearance. Still the judge makes it clear. He asked, " You have any objection to me recommending this into evidence?" With that Eubanks was handcuffed and swiftly taken away.
Less time than it took for Eubanks to strangle his 35 year old wife Tina and create frequent nightmares for his children. Following the proceedings Stephens said, " These children are dreading the prospect of coming to testify. " But Tim Kirby, Tina's brother, says that's not true. He didn't want the younger children to testify, but the older ones were willing and planning to arrive Monday morning in Nacogdoches. ( his e-mailed statement can be found at the end of this article.) Still Stephens says the girls have yet to provide detail accounts of what happened. Her feeling is it's best to spare them the details of recalling the events.
Stephens provided some of the details. " Mrs. Eubanks was strangled to death. A few minutes later Mr eubanks came into their room. He put duct tape on their faces. He tied them up with duct tape. He then went to the other side of the house where the other girl was getting out of the shower. He at one point he put his mouth on her breast. She told him she was going to tell the mother and he told her her mother was gone. " The motive is uncertain. Stephens said, "There are allegations that Eubanks' was indecent with the some of the children when they lived in another state. The family chose to deal with it privately, rather than reporting it. It's been said that tension remained. That could have possibly been a motive. "
An insanity defense was researched. Something difficult to argue since Eubanks' fleeing indicated he knew he did something wrong. Defense attorney John Heath was preparing to argue Eubank's bizarre behavior was caused by medications and epilepsy. Heath said, " Both can in fact cause psychotic episodes and cause people to do things they would have not done otherwise. I do not think with any certainty that a jury in this set of circumstances would have bee persuaded of that. "
We'll never know, but we do know what the children's wishes were the day after their mother was killed. Sarah Eubanks said on that day, " We can still have strength and keep each others heads up and try to go on. " Perhaps with this plea agreement those wishes have come true.
E-mailed statement by Tim Kirby, brother of Tina Eubanks
Our family is extremely disappointed with the today's announcement regarding the plea bargain agreement with the Nacogdoches District Attorney's office. This "Animal" is going to walk away with a sentence that allows him the opportunity for parole in 17 years, for good behavior. It is actually 16 years, since he has already served a year. This is a travesty to our family and the people of the city of Nacogdoches. This "Animal" was able to plea bargain out of multiple molestation charges and physically harming his adopted and natural daughters. Three daughters had to listen to him murder their mother as they were duct taped. One was molested after the murder. The District Attorney's office along with the Nacogdoches Police Department has failed our family. It began the day of the! murder with their Crime Scene evidence gathering and ended with today's announcement. What's amazing is the fact he is still the custodial parent. My parents must now begin a costly legal process to force the courts to rule in their favor to give them custodial rights to the children. The District Attorney's office did not feel the need to fight for us. In published reports the District Attorney said the plea Bargain was offered because my parents were reluctant to have the children testify, that is a false statement. My parents had plane tickets in hand and hotel rooms booked and were prepared to do whatever it took to put this "Animal away for life" We appreciate all the support and well wishes our family has received from people all of the country, may God bless all of them and you. Further information is currently being reviewed.