A Big Spring man found guilty on multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child this week in 118th District Court was sentenced Thursday to serve 35 consecutive years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility.
Ernesto Dutchover Garcia, 60, 1300 E. 11th Place, was found guilty by a jury on one count of indecency with a child and two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, according to Assistant District Attorney Robin Orr.
Thursday, the jury sentenced Garcia to 5 years for the single count of indecency with a child, 20 years in prison for one of the charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and 15 years for the second account. However, 118th District Judge Timothy Yeats stipulated Garcia will have to serve the 20- and 15-year terms consecutively, basically turning the two terms into one 35-year prison sentence.
“The presiding judge in a case such as this has the ability to take the jury's sentence and decide whether the terms will run consecutive or concurrent,” Orr said following the sentencing phase of the trial, which ended Thursday. “In this case, the judge had the option to let the sentences run concurrent — meaning they would run at the same time, effectively making this a 20-year sentence — or consecutively, making it a 35-year sentence.
“Garcia will have to serve one-half of his sentence — a total of 17-and-a-half years — before he is eligible to begin accruing good time toward parole.”
Garcia was indicted Nov. 18, 2010, on four counts of indecency with a child (second-degree felony), three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child (first-degree felony) and a charge of continuous sexual assault of a child (first-degree felony).
According to court records, the alleged attacks go as far back as 2003, listing dates of offense as Dec. 31, 2003, Feb. 26, 2004, and the most recent being Aug. 29, 2010.
Garcia faced 5 to 99 years to life in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000 on each of the first-degree felony charges and two to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000 on the second-degree felony charges.
Jury selection in the trial began Monday morning, with the first witnesses taking the stand for the prosecution Tuesday.
“I felt like the trial went very smoothly,” Orr said. “We were able to present our evidence and witnesses in a very timely fashion. We had eight witnesses for the prosecution we were able to get in before 3:15 p.m., which I found a bit surprising, but, overall, I was pleased with the way the trial went.”
Orr said he wasn't surprised when Yeats made the two sentences consecutive, given the nature of the crime.
“When you look at the evidence, I wasn't at all surprised,” he said. “Each of the victims was basically 6 years old when the sexual assault began, and around the time they turned 8 years old, he was through with them.”
Garcia was represented by local attorney Robert Miller.
While the jury did not convict Garcia on all of the charges he was indicted on, Orr said he has no problem with their overall decision.
“The jury has a very difficult job to do. They have to weigh the evidence in the case,” Orr said. “In the end, I have no quarrel with the decision they rendered. I feel like the victims have received their vindication.”