|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
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Shannon gets two life sentences for sexual assault of children
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — David Leroy Shannon was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty on each of two first degree felony charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child Tuesday before Judge Elizabeth Coker in the 258th District Court and also pleaded guilty to a third degree felony charge of possession of child pornography with intent to distribute and received a 20-year sentence. In exchange for those guilty pleas, sparing 13 child victims from having to testify at trial, Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon agreed to resolved two other indictments for continuous sexual abuse of a child. "Those two additional charges of continuous sexual abuse could have carried a sentence of 25 years to life with no parole," Hon said after Tuesday's hearing. "That fact that we had those charges against him put a lot of pressure on him to plead guilt to the aggravated sexual assault charges." The continuous sexual abuse charge came about as part of Jessica's Law which came into effect a few years ago, Hon added. The district attorney pursued the sentencing agreement with the approval of all of the victim families. Hon met with them about two weeks ago to discuss the pros and cons of a plea agreement. "He will serve a minimum of 30 years before he can be considered for parole," Hon said. "He's 47 years old, so he'll be there for a long time. Just because he becomes eligible doesn't mean he will be granted parole. Under contemporary circumstances, not many sex offenders get parole, period." Shannon's arrest on Oct. 10, 2012, came about as the result of information gathered by the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Texas Attorney General's Office as well as the Polk County Sheriff's Office. October was a difficult month for law enforcement, Hon added. The same local investigators would also be assigned to investigate the shooting death of a juvenile that month. Hon gave Wesley Hensley, an investigator with the Attorney General's Office, a pat on the back for bringing Shannon to the attention of local investigators and complimented Lt. Craig Finegan and Det. Christi Allen for their hard work in dealing with the overwhelming task of preparing cases involving 13 victims. Hensley and other officers with the AG's office arrived at the Polk County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 10, 2012, with a search warrant for Shannon's property. As they learned of possible victims, the AG's office and detectives from the Polk County Sheriff's Office turned to Childrenz Haven for forensic interviews — many of them —"Childrenz Haven was invaluable in the investigation of this case. Jamie Haynes did interviews almost continuously for three or four days. This process allows victims to tell their stories in a relaxed, nonthreatening setting," Hon said. "It helps sort through all the allegations. Criminal charges were identified in that setting and Childrenz Haven is continuing to provide services to those victims. Livingston ISD was also very cooperative." "I've been doing this for 17 years, and David Leroy Shannon is in my top three or four most notorious pedophiles that I've handled," Hon said. "He was definitely working these victims from every angle that he could approach. It's a good thing that he's now off the street." "Today's guilty pleas will never bring back the innocence stolen by this predator, nor will it erase the nightmare he has inflicted on his victims, their families and the community, but this sentence is a clear message that there is no place in Texas for those who prey on our children," said Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General's Office. "This result is a great example of the close collaborative effort between Attorney General Greg Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit and local law enforcement." The father of one of the victims gave an impact statement after Shannon was sentenced. "You made me feel like a bad dad because my son didn't want to go to your house and I made him because I thought it was a disagreement between the boys. Now he's mad at the world and hates Livingston. He's ashamed and doesn't know how to process everything that happened to him. Please never reach out to him." The father also read words from the child that said in part, "I went to you for advice, but it turned out you were just a con artist. You made me do things that made me ashamed. You made me ashamed to socialize with my friends. Now I spend time hating life."