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Spurlock changes plea to guilty

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District Court Activity

James Owen Spurlock, 63, of Hawkins, appeared in the 402nd District Court in Wood County, with his attorney, F.R. "Buck" Files, Jr. of Tyler, to answer an indictment for aggravated sexual assault of a disabled individual.

Immediately prior to jury selection, the defendant withdrew his not guilty plea and entered a plea of guilty to the indictment set for trial as well as a separate indictment that was pending in Wood County.

In April of 2006, a 38-year-old mentally disabled woman made an outcry to her family that the defendant had sex with her "to help prepare her for marriage." The victim's family immediately contacted the Wood County Sheriff's Office and an investigation ensued.

On April 20, 2006, a warrant for the arrest of Spurlock was issued and he was arrested at Touchstone Farms in Wood County, where he was an employee and the victim was a resident. During the investigation, it was discovered that a 24-year-old mentally disabled woman was also a victim.

Both victims were interviewed at the Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center, where they gave statements accusing the defendant of sexual assault.

Although the victims are "mentally fragile" the State planned to call them as witnesses against Spurlock. Retired Criminal District Attorney Marcus D. Taylor, representing the State, believed that the witnesses could have presented the testimony necessary to convict the defendant, assuming the stress could be minimized. The guilty plea by the defendant eliminated the necessity of calling the victims to testify in open court.

Formal sentencing of the defendant is set for January 13, 2009, in the 402nd District Court of Wood County before Judge Timothy Boswell. Pursuant to the plea agreement, it is anticipated that the defendant will be sentenced to 20 years confinement in prison in each case.

Wood Count Criminal District Attorney Jim Wheeler stated he appreciates the extensive time and preparation put into this case by retired District Attorney Taylor.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2009 18:40  

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