|Sulphur Springs man sentenced in injury to a child, sexual assault cases|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Dec. 6, 2005 -- A 66-year-old Sulphur Springs man Monday was sentenced to four years in prison of injury to a child and 10 years' probation for multiple charges of sexual assault of the same 10-year-old.
Billy Joe Smith received the sentence for injury to his wife's granddaughter after pleading guilty Nov. 23 before Eighth Judicial District Judge Robert Newsom in exchange for a lesser sentence for the crimes as part of a plea agreement with the district attorney's office.
The agreement also required the defendant to admit his guilt in open court and describe his actions. The agreement also requires that Smith register as a sex offender, that he follow the more strenuous terms of deferred adjudication as outlined for individuals convicted of sex crimes. He also waived any rights to an appeal the judgment.
The Sulphur Springs man is still a defendant in a pending civil case initiated by the victim's mother on behalf of her now 11-year-old daughter.
Smith testified that he committed the acts against his step-granddaughter while the girl slept in the bed he shares with his wife. He said he thought the girl was asleep each time, and the acts were committed when his wife was out of the room.
Under questioning by District Attorney Martin Braddy, Smith stated that he knew what he did to his step-granddaughter was wrong, but that he derived no sexual gratification from the act. When asked why he did it, Smith stated it was "just curiosity about her development" but "I got nothing sexual out of it." He said he told no one about it because "I was ashamed of it." The offenses ceased when "we got her to sleepin' by her self and I thought it was over," Smith said.
"So this 10-year-old girl, who you felt toward like a daughter, a granddaughter at the minimum, are you proud of her for getting the courage to tell?" Braddy quizzed Smith.
"Yes, I am," the defendant replied.
"You hurt her didn't you?" Braddy asked.
"Mentally," Smith said.
When asked whether he thought he had hurt the victim by sexually assaulting her, Smith said, "I don't think I did."
"I can promise just everybody that it will not happen again... because that's the first time it happened and the last time it’ll happen again," Smith said.
Smith said that he accepted the plea deal -- which was agreed to by the prosecution, defense attorney Eddie Northcutt and the victim's parents -- so that the victim would not have to testify at a jury trial, but noted it to be "the hardest thing I've done."
Following the judge's acceptance of the deal, the victim and both of her parents addressed Smith.
The victim's mother told Smith that instead of being a grandparent her daughter could trust with her safety he was a "predator and destroyer," adding that while she does not trust him, neither does she hate him.
"I feel there is no room in paradise at this time for you. I hope you enjoy prison and hell. I hope I never see you again. I hope you never make it out," the victim's mother said.
"Since you did this I hope I never see you and I hope you rot in hell, too," the victim said.
"What you did to me and my family is disrespectful. ... You did this to her, to me, my mother and the rest of the family. I hope you grow eyes in the back of your head because these eyes are gonna be watching you when you get out," said Smith's stepson, the father of the victim.
Braddy said he was not satisfied with the resolution to the case, but he agreed to it for the victim's sake.
"Although I'm absolutely not satisfied with the very minimum amount of time he received, the benefits to the little girl outweigh the time in prison, so I agreed to it for her sake," the district attorney said. He added that he hoped hearing Smith's admission would help mend the rift in the family caused when the allegations were made.
Northcutt declined to comment on the case, noting that there was not much more he could add and to do so would be improper as he is still representing Smith in a pending civil case brought on behalf of the victim in this case by her mother.