Sex offender gets 50 years without parole
A Matagorda County jury needed less than an hour to sentence a Bay City man to 50 years in prison without parole after being convicted of sexually assaulting his daughter.
Braulio Garcia, 40, will be nearly 90 years old when he is released from prison for sexually assaulting his daughter.
Garcia was sentenced on Oct. 17 after being found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child under six years of age.
He was arrested February 1, 2017 and remained in custody until he was tried by a jury of eight men and four women.
Prosecutors summarized the case before testimony began by telling the jury that Garcia sexually assaulted his young daughter while her mother was in the U. S. Army during the fall of 2007.
Martha Fletcher married Garcia in 1998. They had three children. According to Fletcher, the marriage was good for the first years but began to wane in 2006.
Fletcher, an employee at South Texas Nuclear Project, separated from Garcia and joined the Army. She said that while she was in training at Fort Hood, Garcia kept their children in Bay City during 2007.
Fletcher stated that she and Garcia divorced in 2008 and the children lived with her.
In 2015, Fletcher observed behavioral changes in the child and asked what was going on. According to Fletcher, the child told her that her father “raped her” when she was younger.
Fletcher went to the police.
According to Bay City Police Department detective Chris Hadash, a report of sexual abuse was made in 2015 but was not followed up after Fletcher failed to keep an appointment with the assigned detective at that time, Kim Kunz.
Fletcher said her daughter told her “she still loves her dad” and that she didn’t “want to go through with this.”
The case lingered until late 2016, said Hadash.
Hadash arranged for a medical examination by sexual assault nurse examiner Danielle Rodriguez at the Matagorda Regional Medical Center.
During the exam, Rodriguez said the child told her “my father sexually assaulted me.”
The child confirmed to the nurse that the sexual assault took place while the child’s mother was in the Army and that it took place over a period of time.
“It went on for about 2 years. Mostly at night,” she told Rodriguez.
When the child testified, she confirmed what she had told her mother, her sister, her coach, investigators and the sexual assault nurse examiner.
“I still love him,” she said during questioning by District
Attorney Steven Reis.
But she said she had to tell the truth about what happened.
Defense attorney Cary Faden asked whether she had been prompted to use certain “phrases” by her mother. The child denied being prompted.
After the child testified, a former victim of Garcia testified about how he sexually abused her during the same time period.
She said Garcia sexually assaulted her numerous times while she was in the 5th and 6th grade.
“I believed I loved him,” she told the jury. “He told me that he would be my first and that he would be my last.”
“I thought I was loved by a man almost twice my age,” she told First Assistant DA Lindsay Deshotels.
She told the prosecutor that, had it not been discovered, she would never have told anyone.
The witness described for the jury how difficult and humiliating it was to testify nine years after the defendant pled guilty to injuring her.
She described the taunting and laughter from Garcia’s friends and family as she came to the courthouse.
“I almost walked out,” she said. “But it’s not right for other women to sit behind him and think it’s okay to make fun of someone who is willing to testify.”
Faden called upon several witnesses to testify after prosecutors concluded their case.
Juanita Martinez, mother of the defendant, told the jury that she believed Garcia could never have sexually assaulted her granddaughter in Martinez’ house.
“I never left the children alone,” Martinez said.
Other family members testified that Garcia could not have sexually assaulted the child because of his work schedule.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour before determining Garcia was guilty of the offense.
Evidence of Garcia’s earlier guilty plea to injury of a child in 2009 was introduced.
Amanda Sanchez told the jury she was Garcia’s common-law wife.
When prosecutors showed Sanchez bloody photos of herself after being hit with a beer bottle by Garcia, Sanchez said she started the fight.
Sanchez was life-flighted to Hermann Memorial Hospital at the time for a brain injury. She said she remembered very little of what happened.
Faden called numerous witnesses to speak of Garcia’s good character.
On cross-examination, most testified that they never knew Garcia had pled guilty nor that he had been on probation for several years. Most testified that they did not believe Garcia was guilty and disagreed with the jury verdict.
Faden asked the jury to assess the statutory minimum of 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors told the jury 25 years wasn’t long enough and asked how long the jury thought it would take for the victims to heal.
The jury responded 15 minutes later. The sentence would be 50 years without parole.
The victims chose not to make statements to the court during sentencing.
Garcia stood silent as 130th District Judge Craig Estlinbaum read the verdict and sentenced him to 50 years in prison.
He will be held in the Matagorda County Jail until he is transported to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to begin his sentence.
According to Reis, sexual offenses of this type against very young children or against more than one child over a period of time can result in minimum prison sentences of 25 years and must be served without any consideration for parole.