A Slaton man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after a historic trial wrapped up at the Lubbock County Courthouse on Wednesday.
A Lubbock county jury found 58-year-old Eddie James Jones guilty of sexual assault of a child on Wednesday and Judge John McClendon sentenced him to life in prison.
This isn't the first time a man has been sentenced to life after being convicted of sexual assault of a child in Lubbock County, but Assistant Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Bassett says this is the first time that life sentencing was mandatory.
"This was the defendant's second conviction for sexual assault of a child, and by law, it's a mandatory life sentence," Bassett said.
Bassett says under the Texas Penal Code, if someone is convicted of sexual assault of a child twice, then the law requires a mandatory life sentence.
"It basically says if you've been convicted of a group of offenses which include sexual abuse of a child, your second conviction is a mandatory life sentence if it's proven that you were convicted before," Bassett said.
She says this became law in 2009. However, this is the first time a case like this has been to trial in Lubbock County.
"The evidence that was put forth obviously showed that he had committed a sexual assault against a 16-year-old girl. Then the evidence put forward in punishment, in the courtroom, showed prior convictions including the sexual assault of a child," she said.
Jones was convicted for sexual assault of a child in 1992.
Assistant Criminal District Attorney Jaret Greaser says he was incarcerated but later was released.
In November 2010, Jones raped a 16-year-old Slaton girl and impregnated her.
On Monday, a jury was selected for that 2010 incident and testimonies proceeded on Tuesday.
Bassett said multiple witnesses took the stand ranging from police officers to a representative from the Lubbock Rape Crisis Center. The guilty verdict was handed down on Tuesday by a Lubbock jury in the 137th State District Court after about a 20-minute deliberation.
Early Wednesday morning, Judge McClendon handed down the sentence.
Greaser says he is very happy with the outcome of the trial and Jones is now where he needs to be.
"He had been victimizing our citizens for a long time and luckily we were able to benefit from the law..." Greaser said.
"That's what needed to be done and this is what the jury did. They took the necessary steps and then ultimately with judge McClendon, he finished it with a life sentence and put this defendant where he needed to be," Greaser said.
A similar law, House Bill 1302 or "Justin's Law," that aims to keep sex offenders away from children will go into effect in September.
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