|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - February 24, 2008 - March 2, 2008
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Jury hands down 20-year sentence for sex assault
Polk County Enterprise - February 2008
LIVINGSTON — Larry Charles Cullins, Jr., 31, of Goodrich was sentenced to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Thursday after a Polk County jury found him guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a fi rst degree felony. The verdicts were returned following a three-day trial before 258th District Judge Elizabeth Coker. Cullins’ conviction stemmed from a Grand Jury indictment which alleged that he had sexually molested a 13-year-old female member of his household on July 10, 2006 in Polk County.
Testimony included the testimony of the victim, her step-mother and Polk County Sheriff’s Captain Rickie Childers who investigated the offense. In addition, Tonya Dean and Christy Smejkal, both forensic chemists with the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab, testifi ed Wednesday and Thursday about forensic fi ndings and the presence of the victim’s DNA which was located on Cullins’ bed materials.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Norma Sanford of Memorial Medical Center in Lufkin testifi ed that physical trauma to the victim found during a sexual assault examination was consistent with the victim’s account of the offense. Although Cullins testifi ed in his own defense and denied the sexual encounter, he had no explanation for the motive of the victim in accusing him of the assault of the presence of the victim’s DNA on his bed.
The jury deliberated approximately one hour before returning a guilty verdict. In his closing argument to the jury at the punishment phase of the trial, Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon implored the jury to “send a message to the defendant and others like him that the victimization of children in Polk County will not be tolerated and that a high price will be paid by those who sexually exploit young children for their own selfish reasons.” The jury deliberated approximately an hour and a half before returning a 20-year sentence.
According to Hon, the defendant will have to serve at least half of the 20 year sentence “day for day” before he can be considered for parole. In all likelihood, Cullins will have to serve 85 percent or more of this sentence, Hon said. Following the trial, Hon said that he was extremely pleased with the jury verdict and “hoped that others in Polk County who might feel inclined to sexually molest children will take notice of this verdict.