July-August 2014

Making full use of the Continuous Trafficking of Persons law

Brian Erskine

Assistant Criminal ­District Attorney in Hays County

Prosecutors in Hays County recently tried a man under this statute for transporting an underage girl for sex and obtained a life sentence. Here’s how they did it.

Robert Francis Ritz is not the poster boy for human smuggling or modern-day slavery that many would associate with the terms “human trafficking” or “sex trafficking.” His actions are better characterized as the continued transportation and harboring of a minor to commit sexual abuse, seemingly similar to many sex offenders we have heard of before. But the new law that created the offense of Continuous Trafficking of Persons makes continuously transporting and harboring a minor for the purpose of committing sexual abuse a trafficking offense.
    In May 2014, Robert Ritz received a life sentence for trafficking, which is no longer confined to the stereotypical sex trafficking depicted in movies (like Liam Neeson’s 2008 thriller Taken). This article outlines our strategy that made it possible for the jury to assess the maximum punishment, life in prison.

The facts
Marianne1 was a 13-year-old girl who lived in Hays County with her mom. Her biological parents are divorced and each are on their fourth marriages. Dad had been stationed in Virginia for the past several years, only visiting on summer break and at Christmas, and Mom had a newborn and a new husband. Marianne was an outsider with an equally mischievous best friend, and together they sought the attention of older men on social networking sites and met them in person. For Marianne, these “dates” were mostly in-person meetings (away from her house) to talk in the men’s cars or driving to the nearby middle school to talk—which led to make-out sessions and eventually sex.
    Robert Ritz, 43, was one of those men. For the past 17 years he worked as a corrections officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Ritz boasted in letters to Marianne that “Papi has a six-pack” and that he was doing “3 to 4 thousand (yes thousand! ha ha!) crunches, planks, and sit-ups every day.”2 Ritz’s roommate described him as a gym rat. He was proud of his fitness and the remnants of his boasts can still be found online on his MySpace page.3
    Ritz created an online account in February 2012 with Badoo, a social networking site. Badoo is “designed to connect you with people nearby whom you don’t yet know, for whatever purpose you like.” “Think of it like a night club. … People come for a quick chat, a quick meet, a quick … whatever.”4 The account is akin to many dating sites and includes a person’s profile pictures, age, and location. Thirteen-year-old Marianne listed her age as 18. This was not the first time she had created online accounts to meet grown men. She also had an eHarmony account, where she met another defendant, Mathias Hieserich. Hieserich, a high-school teacher in San Antonio, met Marianne and her 12-year-old best friend, Susan,5 at the middle-school football field on two separate occasions. He admitted to detectives that he intended to have sex with Marianne; Marianne told detectives that she had wanted to have sex with Hieserich too but that Susan had threatened to call the cops. (Hieserich would eventually guilty to online solicitation of a minor.)
    Ritz met Marianne through Badoo, where they exchanged phone numbers and then decided to meet in person after communicating via text messages. When Ritz arrived at the agreed meeting place, Marianne was there with Susan. The girls got in the backseat of Ritz’s car, and they drove to a deserted neighborhood under construction. Ritz had sex with Marianne in the front seat while Susan looked on. Ritz would occasionally reach into the back seat to rub Susan’s leg. Susan was upset with how the encounter escalated and told Marianne not to see him again. Both girls continued to meet other men online and in person, but Susan distanced herself from Marianne after the meetings with Hieserich went similarly awry. (They didn’t speak again until after Ritz’s trial.) What Susan did not know is that Marianne continued her relationship with Ritz; he would drive to her house in Hays County at night and transport her to his home in adjacent Travis County for sex. This relationship lasted for a year.

Ritz’s arrest
Ritz was arrested on January 18, 2013, after law enforcement investigated a tip that he and Marianne had been engaging in a continued sexual relationship. The tip came when Susan, Marianne’s best friend, was having her own trouble online. Susan had been receiving several solicitations through online chat rooms where someone had imposed Susan’s face on sexually explicit images that offered sex. After Susan’s stepmother found these materials online, Susan told her stepmother about Marianne going on dates with older men. The stepmother then called police.
    Detectives made contact with Marianne, who handed over her cell phone and iPod for examination. She was forensically interviewed and outcried that she interacted online, in person, and eventually in sexual relationships with adult men, including Ritz. She further explained that her best friend, Susan, was present for some of the interactions, but details were scarce and she was considerably reserved. She stated that her age was made clear to Ritz many times (that is, she and Ritz talked about her being bullied at school, about her middle-school teachers, about her school friends, etc.—and truly, she looked 12 or younger).6 He knew where she went to school, her class schedule, and her extracurricular activities.
    Knowing that crimes perpetuated against our youth often entail the use of technology, we always appreciate when law enforcement officers examine victims’ and defendants’ cell phones and other electronic wares, as they did with Marianne and Ritz. My experience confirms that many perpetrators and the occasional politician have deemed cellphones a proper place for the narcissistic proclivity to catalogue certain, shall we say, accomplishments. It’s a compulsion! Along with Ritz’s collection of selfies with ladies at the fine Twin Peaks eatery,7 there were also the professional headshots modeled after WWE wrestlers and “the most interesting man in the world” commercials for Dos Equis beer. The collection also included an impressive assortment of ball caps, a variety of impending sex acts with unidentified females in various stages of undress on his bed or peeking around the bathroom door, and the obligatory photograph of his penis. (Some things can never be unseen.)
    Our youth are no better. Following the forensic interview, Marianne obtained another iPod and resumed talks with Ritz.8 Messages from him included: “It’s early, are your parents in bed?”; “How’s Biology…;)”; and “At gym … motivate daddy when ur on bus..;).”9 Marianne told Ritz about the criminal investigation into his activities, but he continued to contact her. He expressed his obsession with her, hoping to influence her testimony, and even managed to pick her up for one last sexual encounter the night before his arrest: “I feel like I’m dying inside …”; “I wonder why they interviewed you, was it at the courthouse? Did you do exactly what we talked about?”; “I’m sure they’re not telling u a lot. … I love u Marianne. … No matter what happens … I’ll always love u”; “I love u so so so very much baby … I can feel u …”; “I must admit being with u is a hell of a roller coaster … geez … ;-)”; “Craziness … god I love u … daddies craving u!!!..”; “I would sacrifice my life for our love … that’s crazy..”; and “There in 10..be ready, wear a hoodie.”10 After placing Ritz in custody, detectives found a multitude of other sexually explicit communications between him and Marianne, including an offer to run away with her: “I want at least 3 days with u … I must plant my seed..;)” and “Have your bags packed right..it will be a quick decision..or up from school…;).”11 You can read the more explicit ones in the following endnote—but be warned, they are graphic!12

The challenge
Discrepancies concerning whether the conduct took place before or after Marianne turned 14 had a large impact on our case. We met with her on three separate occasions leading up to trial to identify landmark events, dates, and acts and to uncover any other corroborating evidence. Unfortunately, between suicide attempts, hospitalization, and custody issues with her parents, Marianne was significantly withdrawn during our interviews.
    Continued sexual conduct is punishable under Penal Code §21.02 (Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children) only for victims who are 13 or younger, which means establishing dates of conduct is very important. In other words, Ritz would be facing 25–99 years or life with no parole for multiple sex acts before Marianne’s 14th birthday, but that suddenly shrank to a range of 2–20 years with the possibility of parole—or even probation, as Ritz had no priors—after she turned 14.13

The trafficking statute
This is where the trafficking offenses came into play, because when facts substantiate trafficking of victims younger than 18 (instead of 14), it opens up much tougher punishment ranges. Specifically, offenses otherwise relegated to lower punishment ranges that are subsumed in the trafficking offenses can be enhanced in some cases from third-degree to first-degree felonies, or as in our case, to 25–99 years or life for victims of continuous trafficking who are younger than 18 years old.
    This is so because among its many different manners and means, Penal Code §20A.02(a)(7) (Trafficking of Persons) allows for a conviction if a person knowingly trafficks a child and by any means causes the trafficked child to engage in or become the victim of conduct prohibited by §21.11 (Indecency with a Child) or §22.011 (Sexual Assault). In plain English, transporting or enticing a child under 17 who is then sexually abused is prosecutable as a first-degree felony trafficking offense. But it gets better.
    Much like its Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child counterpart, the Continuous Trafficking of Persons offense has analogous durational requirements of 30 or more days in which the two or more acts of trafficking must occur.14 Proving up continuous trafficking results in the same punishment range as continuous sexual abuse of a child: 25–99 years or life.15 That sounded like a much more appropriate punishment range for Ritz’s conduct in light of the similarities to the continuous sexual abuse crime that he likely committed but which we were unsure we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt due to Marianne’s circumstances.
    It might sound strange to treat this conduct as human trafficking because these acts don’t fit the stereotypical example of trafficking, but when the trafficking statutes are broken down into their individual elements, it makes sense. The prerequisite element for Trafficking of Persons is the manner in which an individual is trafficked. “Traffic” means to transport, entice, recruit, harbor, provide, or otherwise obtain another person by any means.16 That language is very broad. The statute then delineates eight distinct acts of prohibited conduct with a trafficked person. Many of the acts track closely with the common perceptions of trafficking, such as forced labor or prostitution-related conduct, with the first four subsections applying to adult victims and the latter four subsections covering child victims under 18. The key difference is that sex trafficking cases involving adult victims are limited to commercial sex offenses (prostitution, etc.) and require proof that the defendant used “force, fraud, or coercion,” but sex trafficking cases involving children require proof of neither.
    Of the eight subsections available, §20A.02(a)(7) fit Ritz’s conduct perfectly. This provision states that a person commits an offense if the person “[traffics] a child and by any means causes the trafficked child to engage in, or become the victim of, conduct prohibited by:
    (A) §21.02 (Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children);
    (B) §21.11 (Indecency with a Child);
    (C) §22.011 (Sexual Assault);
    (D) §22.021 (Aggravated Sexual Assault);
    (E) §43.02 (Prostitution);
    (F) §43.03 (Promotion of Prostitution);
    (G) §43.04 (Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution);
    (H) §43.05 (Compelling Prostitution);
    (I) §43.25 (Sexual Performance by a Child);
    (J) §43.251 (Employment Harmful to Children); or
    (K) §43.26 (Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography).”
    The proscribed conduct in subsections (A), (B), (C), (D), (I), and (K) may not resound with the well-known ideas of trafficking, but the Legislature clearly included those offenses within trafficking when the victim is under 18. The applicable provisions for which Ritz was convicted under §20A.02(a)(7) were added by SB 24 and HB 7 in the 82nd Legislature (2011), authored by State Senator Leticia Van De Putte (D–San Antonio) and Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), respectively.17 At the same time HB 3000, authored by Representative Thompson, created the new crime of Continuous Trafficking of Persons, allowing for the harsher life sentence.18 In a press conference with Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott, all four gave speeches in a call to action to denounce what they termed human trafficking and modern-day slavery—as defined by the Legislature in these new provisions of the Penal Code.19

Charging decisions
In our case, we believed Ritz took his 13-year-old victim from her home and transported her to several locations where they engaged in a multitude of sexual acts. He accomplished the acts by preying on her vulnerabilities and filling a void in her life. In his mind (and as he wrote to her), he was the one “to comfort you and reassure you … to protect you”; “I feel I helped you get away …”; “I know you were having such a hard time at home, that’s why you were so eager to run away”; “You are one of those special people … the reason people hate on you at home is because you are beautiful and confident, they hate that and will do anything to tear you down.”20 His transportation and enticement of this underage girl met the broad definition of “traffic” and allowed us to pursue that option.
    I have been using this statute in its broader “traffic” terms for the last 21⁄2 years—the Ritz case just happened to be the first to go to trial. I charged cases substantially similar to this one when I worked in Cameron County and brought the practice with me to Hays, and most have pled to the lesser-included charges without need for trial. In practice, having this option as a charge has put the State in a great bargaining position—and when the statutory language lets a prosecutor waylay a dangerous sex offender, I’m gonna take the biggest swing I can.
    After we presented this information to a grand jury, it indicted Ritz on one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child and a second count of Continuous Trafficking of Persons. Each count listed underlying offenses of Sexual Assault of a Child and Indecency with a Child. As time passed, it became harder to narrow down the dates of the criminal conduct due to Marianne’s circumstances. Prior to trial, the continuous sexual abuse count was abandoned and interlineated as a single count of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. At trial, and with less confidence regarding our proof of Marianne’s age at the time of the offense, we abandoned the Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child count and proceeded with Continuous Trafficking of Persons. Thankfully, having the same penalty range associated with Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child alleviated our concerns that the jury might not otherwise have the ability to punish the defendant using the higher penalty range if it chose to.

Preparing for trial
The word “trafficking” has a polarizing effect. Jury selection was a necessary and educational tool for the community and for us to understand what perceptions are out there concerning trafficking. We spent a great deal of time discussing common views of that term, such as forced labor and prostitution, and comparing those views to the language of the statute itself. The focus of this dialogue was on the plain reading of §20A.02(a)(7), how this crime could be accomplished, and whether anyone on the panel would require the State to prove additional elements, such as the common perceptions or stereotypes not otherwise mentioned in the statute.
    On the eve of jury selection we met with Marianne again, and she asked us a curious question:  Why were we not going to call her best friend, Susan, to testify as to what she witnessed? The question shocked us but ultimately helped us figure out Susan’s involvement. We had previously disposed of Hieserich’s Online Solicitation of a Minor case where he met with both Marianne and Susan, but it had not occurred to us that Susan would have been present when Ritz had sex with Marianne in his car. Granted, it was in the forensic interview, right there in front of us—we had just missed it because that disclosure was discussed in a way that we all interpreted as relating to Hieserich (not Ritz). And in our earlier meetings with Marianne, she never discussed Susan being present for the sex in Ritz’s car.
    We emailed defense counsel that night and told them we intended to call Susan as a witness, and we appeared before the judge to discuss how to proceed. (Defense counsel had missed the connection too.) Though the same evidence was previously provided to them, the defense requested and was granted a 30-day continuance.
    When the trial resumed a month later, both children testified: Susan provided background details on her friendship with Marianne and their online activities, including watching Marianne and Ritz have sex. And Marianne presented compelling specifics regarding the layout of Ritz’s home and provided graphic details of their sexual relationship. Both girls were believable and sympathetic.
    Throughout the proceedings, the defensive theory was that Ritz was engaged in fantasy online role-play and had never met with anyone, ever, even with 12-year-old Susan as a witness. Further, the defense insisted that Ritz never had women over to his home.
    Ritz’s roommate, Joseph Smith, testified that he met Ritz on Craigslist and leased out the upstairs bedroom to him from 2009 to 2013. Smith, who worked from home, testified that he always heard what was going on in his house. He testified that Ritz was always busy and never had anyone over, certainly not without his knowledge. He further sketched a layout of his home that was, as we presumed, very similar to Marianne’s drawing of the same. After laying the predicate for photos of his own home, Smith was unsettled when we had him identify several provocative photographs depicting females in various stages of undress in Ritz’s upstairs bedroom during times that Smith established he was present.21
    Upon conclusion of the evidence, the jury charge incorporated lesser-included offenses of Sexual Assault of a Child and Indecency with a Child, should the jury feel that the trafficking portion wasn’t applicable. The jury took less than 30 minutes to deliberate and determined that the evidence established Ritz’s guilt for the Continuous Trafficking charge.

During the punishment phase, the program director of our local Children’s Advocacy Center spoke about the long-term effects of child sexual abuse. We also called Marianne’s father, Don.22 One of the most difficult issues in the relationship with Marianne and her father was the word “Daddy.” This term had become a trigger for Marianne, as Ritz constantly referred to himself as “Daddy” and “Papi.” Don just didn’t understand. He had helped her move forward with counseling and re-focus her life, but he felt robbed of an important title. It is truly special for a father to hear that word, but Ritz had stolen that from him.
    There’s always pressure to ask for a number of years in punishment proceedings. We often relate to the jury what our community has done with cases that are similar, but the number thing is complicated. Not really having a baseline for this charge, we made no request for a term of years and left that up to the jury. The life sentence was decided in less than an hour. Based on our conversations with them after the trial, the jurors’ reasoning included the continuous conduct, Ritz’s age, and his knowledge of the criminal justice system. His continuous attempts to contact the victim, even in the face of such serious charges, was indicative that he would never stop, so the jury was not going to give him the chance.

“Plain meaning” rule
We spent some time talking to our jurors about the trafficking charge after the trial. Many emailed us afterwards and expressed concern regarding criticism in the press as to the offense being misapplied.23 They asked, “Would you have to go to trial all over again?”
    How might an appellate court reconcile the application of Ritz’s case to a statute some believe to have been misapplied? The plain-meaning rule is the likely answer. If the meaning of the statutory text should have been plain to the legislators who voted on it, appellate courts ordinarily give effect to that plain meaning.24 The text of the statute is the law in the sense that it is the only thing actually adopted by the legislators, through compromise, and is the only definitive evidence of what the legislators had in mind when the statute was enacted.25 When attempting to discern the collective legislative intent or purpose, appellate courts have focused on the literal text of the statute and attempted to discern the fair, objective meaning of that text at the time of its enactment.26 There really is no other certain method for determining the collective legislative intent or purpose at some point in the past, even assuming a single intent or purpose was dominant at the time of enactment.27 Also note the very recent opinion from the Court of Criminal Appeals, Ex Parte Jones, finding that a statute’s plain meaning trumped a legislator’s letter to the court saying otherwise.28
    There seems to be no dispute that the trafficking law harshly punishes a person who forces a child into prostitution. But is sex for money really that much worse than what Ritz did to a troubled middle-school student? The stereotypical trafficking situations concerning domestic victims are remarkably similar to other exploitations that lack the forced labor or compelled prostitution component. In particular, children who are removed from their homes or run away and who are groomed or otherwise deceived and exploited for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator alone seems only to lack the ostensible monetary gain component of stereotypical trafficking situations.
    These common themes persist whether the exploitation is accomplished for a commercial purpose or by deception for personal depravities. The commercial distinction is noticeably absent for child victims under §20A.02(a)(7), and the dangers exist either way. We as prosecutors have seen the roadside where children were stabbed, left for dead, naked and beaten, and forced to crawl in the brambles to the roadway for help.29 We’ve helped with the search warrants for motel rooms and vehicles, read SANE report after SANE report regarding ostracized children and drug facilitation, and secured closed-circuit TV footage from our schools where the perp picks up kids from class. We’ve read the text messages, corroborated travel with receipts, and subpoenaed records from social media sites. And we’ve seen first-hand the physical wreckage and psychological damage that takes place in the aftermath.
    After Ritz’s sentencing, we learned that his victim, Marianne, was in contact with yet another adult man. While investigating the abduction and rape of a young girl in our area, Marianne’s name appeared on the suspect’s phone, along with a number of text messages between the two of them.30 He was apprehended and confessed to a continued sexual relationship with Marianne. In her forensic interview, she appeared very flat and matter-of-fact, and it is clear she is still struggling. She continues to minimize this conduct, lacks boundaries, has a low sense of self-worth, and gets much of her validation from others. She doesn’t see herself as a victim and is resistant to counseling. Her father has helped by making counseling available and giving her support in making better decisions and being more active in school functions, but it doesn’t seem like much has changed for her. But we are grateful that a Hays County jury made sure that it won’t be Robert Ritz who does it to her or any other children in our community.

Final thoughts    
This type of charge should be used in a manner consistent with our mandate: not to convict, but to see that justice is done. We believe the legal application of the plain meaning of the trafficking statute to the facts of this case was substantiated at trial. We also believe justice was done in this case, and we will continue to be advocates for our children who are exploited, using each and every tool available to see that justice continues to be done. Prosecutors are given a great measure of discretion and tasked with an extraordinary duty, and every case contains a cautionary tale. To those who have picked me up and dared me to walk with them in that duty, thank you. Special thanks to my partners-in-crime-fighting Laura Garcia, Gerard Perches, our Family Justice Division, and all prosecutors and advocates tasked with protecting children.


1 Not her real name.
2 Excerpts from a 10-page letter Ritz sent from jail stuffed into a holiday card.
3 Roberto Ritz’s Myspace page, https://myspace .com/biggpapi1/photos (last visited June 6, 2014).
4 Linsey Fryatt, “It’s Not Just About Sex”: Badoo founder Andrey Andreev Brings His Billion-dollar Social Network to Berlin, Venture Village (Dec. 9, 2006); http://venturevillage.eu/badoo.
5 Also not her real name.
6 In his letters he relayed a story to her about when he was her age and recounted seeing eight reindeer and Santa Claus himself.
7 A “breastaurant” with 21 Texas locations, one coming soon to the Waco area!
8 Even though she didn’t have a phone, the iPod allowed Marianne to send text messages through a wi-fi connection.
9 Excerpts from text messages exchanged with Ritz that were retrieved from Marianne’s iPod.
10 Id.
11 Excerpts from text messages exchanged with Ritz that were retrieved from Ritz’s phone.
12 “Ok its time to tell daddy things…bout to shower and head to gym..;-)…Plllzzzz”; “Your touch is amazing…I absolutely love you touching daddy…so loving…ugh..I need it!!!”; “I want u as mine and mine only…I want every thought to be of me…”;”I’m about to explode thinking of u…literally…”; “My love for u overwhelms my every thought…your in all my thoughts…”; “Is your kitty taking a bath?…Soaked I bet…”; ”Tell daddy what you miss..details”; “Ugh…its an amazing feeling..holding your naked body…omg”; “How much do u really think of daddy?..what goes through your mind” [Marianne’s response was: “All the time and all the times I’ve spent in your bed with my head on your chest”]; “Baby!!!…its amazing how u feel touching and holding daddy”; When we first jumped in bed..and I touched u…omfg…felt sooo good..mmmm”; “Tell daddy things”; “I want to eat ur sweet ass”; “Spread ur ass cheeks and say”  [Marianne’s response was: “Eat my ass daddy”]; “Omfg!!! I want to eat it bad!!! U taste so sweet..Mmmmm tongue fuck ur ass…”; “U like it”; “How does it feel when daddy eats ur sweet ass”; “Daddy wants to fuck ur tight ass again…cum deep inside it..”; “Stretch ur tight asshole…Mmmmm….I want it!!”; “I want it bad..Idk why..but right now I want to gap ur ass…stick ur ass up ass I fuck it…Mmmmm..stretching it..mmmm.open that ass for daddy…”; “I want to be deep inside u”; Mmhhmmm…when your horny u have no problem obeying…hmmmmm…;-)”; “I think someone needs a spank”; “I wanna suck your toes”; “As I fuck u…mmmm omg”; and on and on.
13 Tex. Penal Code §21.11 (Indecency with a Child) or §22.011 (Sexual Assault [of a Child]). Stacking sentences is a possibility, but it is applied sparsely in our county.
14 Tex. Penal Code §20A.02.
15 We originally thought this offense was ineligible for parole like the Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child statute; however, we later learned that it is treated like a 3g offense for purposes of computing parole eligibility. Tex. Gov’t Code §508.145(d)(1).
16 Tex. Penal Code §20A.01(4).
17 See Tex. S.B. 24, 82nd Leg., R.S. (2011), available at www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History .aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SB24; see also Tex. H.B. 7, 82nd Leg., R.S. (2011), available at www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB7.
18 See Tex. H.B. 3000, 82nd Leg., R.S. (2011), available at www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB3000.
19 Press Release, Office of the Governor Rick Perry, Gov. Perry: Human Trafficking Legislation Speaks for the Voiceless Signs Bills Creating Stricter Penalties for Human Trafficking in Texas (May 25, 2011), available at www.governor.state .tx.us/news/press-release/16172/.
20 Excerpts from a 10-page letter Ritz sent Marianne from jail stuffed into a holiday card.
21 The photos were retrieved from Ritz’s cellphone.
22 Not his real name.
23 Shortly after the trial, Representative Thompson, author of HB 3000, told the Austin American Statesman that prosecutors misapplied her bill in the Ritz case. She specified that the intended purpose was to “target criminals who were selling people into prostitution or holding them against their will for commercial purposes.” Esther Robards-Forbes, “Under Texas Trafficking Law, Sex with Minor can Mean Life in Prison,” Austin American Statesman, May 15, 2014, at A1, available at www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local/under-texas-trafficking-law-sex-with-minor-can-mea/nfxqP/?icmp=statesman_internallink_textlink_apr2013_statesmanstubtomystatesman_launch#a28b0d2e.3554830.735369.
24 Smith v. State, 789 S.W.2d 590, 592 (Tex. Crim. App. 1990).
25 Boykin v. State, 818 S.W.2d 782, 785 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991).
26 Id.
27 Id.
28 www.cca.courts.state.tx.us/OPINIONS/ PDFOPINIONINFO2.ASP?OPINIONID=25591.
29 Another case we tried this year: Angie Beavin, “Man convicted of rape and attempted murder gets life in prison,” KXAN-TV, January 27, 2014, available at http://kxan.com/2014/01/27/accused-rapist-kidnapper-found-guilty-on-all-counts/.
30 Investigation still pending. Marianne’s father had handed over his daughter’s phones to detectives, who made contact with this other man via text messages. The suspect was wanting to meet and told Marianne he couldn’t wait to hook up and have sex again. Instead, detectives met him outside her house and arrested him, and he gave a full confession.