Polk County man gets 60 years for sexually assaulting child

Jeffery McCumber Jr. (Source: Polk County Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon Facebook page)
Jeffery McCumber Jr. (Source: Polk County Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon Facebook page)(Polk County Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon Facebook page)
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 11:10 AM CDT
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POLK COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - A Polk County jury sentenced a 35-year-old man who sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl multiple times to 60 years in prison last week.

The trial for Jeffery Merritt McCumber. Jr., of Indian Springs, was held in the 411th Judicial District Court with Judge John Wells presiding.

“In his closing argument to the jury District Attorney Hon characterized McCumber as a career criminal whose record suggested that he would never learn his lesson,” a post on the Polk County District Attorney’s Office Facebook page. “Hon implored the jury to ‘protect the children of Polk County and send a message that sexual exploitation of children would never be tolerated.’”

The jury was selected on May 9, and testimony was presented on May 12 and 13. According to the Facebook post, McCumber’s grand jury indictment alleged that between June and September of 2016, he committed multiple acts of sexual abuse including indecency with a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child against a then-6-year-old girl.

On Thursday, the victim, who is now 13, described ongoing instances of sexual abuse during her childhood, the Facebook post stated. She also said the abuse happened at two different residences in Indian Springs.

“In questioning by Hon, the victim described how in June of 2020, she finally confided in her aunt regarding what the defendant had done to her,” the Facebook post stated. “The aunt, in turn, immediately reported the child’s outcry of abuse to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department.”

During the trial, Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon also called Kaycee Hendrix, a forensics interviewer with Childrenz Haven (the Polk County Child’s Advocacy Center) who interviewed the victim, to the stand, the Facebook post stated. Other witnesses included Kristi Griffin, a sexual assault nurse examiner with CHI St. Luke’s Hospital who performed a sexual assault examination, and PCSO Lt. Craig Finigan, who conducted the criminal investigation.

On Friday, the jury deliberated about two hours before they found McCumber guilty of continuous sexual assault of a child, the Facebook post stated.

During the punishment phase of the trial, Hon presented evidence of McCumber’s criminal background which included convictions for burglary, theft, evading arrest, and violation of a protective order. In addition, Hon presented the testimony of former Alabama Coushatta Tribal Police Officer Michael Bentley.

Bentley talked about arresting McCumber after a January 2019 traffic stop. At that time McCumber was charged with third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance and tampering with physical evidence after he was caught trying to swallow a plastic bag containing a quantity of methamphetamine, the Facebook post stated.

It only took the jury about an hour and a half to sentence McCumber to 60 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison. McCumber will be required to serve the sentence without any possibility of parole.

“The crime of continuous sexual abuse of a young child was established by the Texas Legislature in 2007 as part of ‘Jessica’s Law,’ Hon stated,” according to the Facebook post. “In February 2005, a nine-year-old girl named Jessica Lunsford was abducted from her bed in her family home in Homosassa, Florida.”

Lunsford’s body was found shrouded in a garbage bag in a shallow grave behind the mobile home where a neighbor named John Evander Couey lived, the Facebook post stated. Couey was arrested and later convicted of the child’s kidnapping, rape, and murder.

“Public outcry rose from a local to the national level in this case, spurred not only by the revelation at trial that Mr. Couey was a registered sex offender but that the child had been buried alive,” the Facebook post stated.

According to the Facebook post, state legislatures across the United States responded to the Jessica Lunsford case by enacting versions of “Jessica’s Law” as it was originally drafted into law by the Florida Statehouse. The law focused on children under the age of 12 and put longer sentencing and lifetime tracking of the convicted via GPS into effect.

“Texas passed its own version of Jessica’s Law in 2007 after debate in the House and Senate and has been codified in Section 21.02 of the Texas Penal Code.,” the Facebook post stated. “It carries a potential sentence of 25 years to life in prison with no possibility of parole.”

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