Trial in 2005 home invasion hears from defense today
Joe Frank Horace Sr., a 50-year-old Beaumont man on trial in connection with the 2005 beating of an elderly woman, will have an opportunity today to call witnesses and present evidence in his defense.
Horace, represented by Beaumont attorney Tom Burbank, faces up to life
in prison if convicted of an enhanced second-degree felony burglary of
a habitation charge.
Horace is accused of forcing his way inside 88-year-old Vera Johnson's home in the 5100 block of Idylwood in Beaumont August 13, 2005.
Once inside, prosecutors contend, Horace tied the woman's wrists and beat her unconscious before stealing her television and her car, which he drove though the home's garage door.
Johnson, who survived the attack, died of cancer complications on Nov. 23, 2005.
Horace also faces a sexual assault indictment connected to the attack, but he now is on trial only on the burglary charge. Prosecutor Ramon Rodriguez said a trial on the sexual assault charge is possible next year.
Several of Johnson's neighbors, one of whom testified he saw Horace driving away from Johnson's home in her car, found the woman, untied her and called police, according to testimony.
A forensic nurse examiner who examined Johnson at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital after she was attacked, told jurors Tuesday the woman suffered blunt force injuries to much of her body.
Neighbors testified Tuesday they had seen Horace on the street before, though not in at least three months before the attack. One witness said he believed Horace once lived on the street.
Another neighbor said she believed Horace used to visit a relative who lived near Johnson.
Eugene Harmon Jr., a former friend of Horace, told jurors the defendant showed up at his home Aug. 13 after the two men had not seen each other in about 15 years.
Harmon said Horace asked if he could sleep in his driveway. After Harmon agreed, Horace returned in a maroon 1980 Pontiac Phoenix, the type of car stolen from Johnson.
An officer looking for Johnson's car found Horace asleep in the car in Harmon's driveway the following day, according to testimony.
Horace has elected to have the judge assess punishment if he is found guilty.
The second-degree burglary charge Horace faces is enhanced by a previous felony conviction for drug delivery, increasing his potential punishment range to life in prison.
The trial was set to resume today at 9:30 a.m. before Criminal District Court Judge John Stevens.