Tuesday, 29th District Judge Michael Moore wasted no time in handing down a 99-year prison term to Thomas Edgar Lee Jr., 30, of Mineral Wells, for aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Because the victims in the case were under the age of 6, state law required a minimum of 25 years and a maximum of 99 years or life. Moore also assessed a $10,000 fine.
“Judge Moore’s assessment of the maximum sentence in this case continues to exemplify this community’s intolerance of child abuse,” District Attorney Michael Burns said after the trial. “Child predators need to be on notice that if you abuse our children in our community, we will find you and vigorously prosecute you.”
Monday, Lee entered a plea of guilty to the indictment. The punishment phase opened Tuesday morning and, within an hour, Moore passed the sentence.
Burns opened the punishment phase by recounting the prima facie case. He called Mineral Wells detective Jeremy Hamscher, the investigator in the case.
“This case started on Jan. 23 (2013),” Hamscher recounted. “The victim made an outcry to the father.”
The victim was taken to Cook Children’s Hospital where the Care Team interviewed the child and documented the child’s allegations. Hamscher investigated and confirmed those allegations.
He testified that, during the course of the investigation, two younger victims were identified. Subsequent interviews with them revealed similar allegations.
Moore confirmed the plea of guilty from Lee.
Defense attorney Ken Tarleton called Lee’s family members as character witnesses, including his sister, aunt and father. Each testified that he was of good character and had never bothered their children or grandchildren.
In his closing argument, Tarleton requested the minimum sentence of 25 years.