One Less Witness

 Posted on January 14, 2008 in Uncategorized

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram brings us this story (H/T: Isiah Carey) of a 32-year-old Arlington, Texas man who believed that his 18-year-old stepson had anally raped the man's 8-year-old daughter. After the man's wife (the stepson's mother) made bail on her son's aggravated sexual assault charge despite the man's warning that he would hurt the lad, the man picked his stepson up from jail and then allegedly drove to an abandoned house in Fort Worth, beat his stepson with a baseball bat, and sodomized him with a metal tool.

So now the man is charged with aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony. He is a convicted felon, so he is facing 15 years to life in prison on that count, and could be charged with aggravated assault (for the baseball-bat beating, a second-degree felony, for which he could face an enhanced penalty of 5 years to life) and aggravated kidnapping (another 15-to-life case for him). These sentences could be stacked, for a 35-year minimum. If the State proves the allegations in the article, the man will spend at least seven and a half years in prison.

As the father of a young girl, I certainly sympathize with the impulse that drove him to retaliate against the guy who he believed had hurt his daughter. If I knew that someone had harmed one of my children, I imagine that I would be sorely tempted to bail him out and deal with him myself. I sure hope that the Arlington man got the right guy.

But if he had come to me for advice first, he would never have done what he is accused of. We can't go around taking the law into our own hands, and if we must we should minimize our own risk. Had this father simply killed his stepson, he would likely be facing a single 15-to-life count, he might be able to convince a jury that he was driven to kill the lad by sudden passion, and there would be one less witness to testify against him.

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