08.28.07

Latest Sentencing Curious In Light Of Earlier Proctor Sentencing

Posted in Commentary, Criminal Justice, Williamson County at 4:00 pm by wcnews

Another sentencing of a child molester in Williamson County brings up more questions regarding the sentencing of a former peace officer. I saw this last night when the 10 o’clock news on KXAN, Man Sentenced To 50 Years After Impregnating Relative.

A judge sentenced a man to 50 years in prison Monday after he was convicted of impregnating a 16-year-old family member.

Tomas Zapata, 32, waived his right to a jury trial in Williamson County and pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child.

In addition to fathering her child, the victim said Zapata had been abusing her since she was 9 years old.

[...]

Zapata had previously served time for a 1996 burglary. The charge enhanced his punishment range up to life in prison.

DA John Bradley had this to say in the AAS.

In 1996, Zapata had been convicted of burglary, a felony that increased his punishment range from 20 years in prison to up to life in prison for each of the five counts of sexual assault he was facing, according to court records.

Monday’s plea agreement came two weeks after an Austin mother of two, Phill Rian, was sentenced to 23 years by a Williamson County jury for having sexual relations with a 16-year-old neighbor. The 41-year-old woman’s sentence sparked some disagreement in the community; some said her prison sentence was too strict.

But Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said he does not think the community will be outraged by Zapata’s sentence because he impregnated the victim and the abuse began when the child was 9.

Bradley said Zapata took the plea deal to avoid the possibility of a jury sentencing him to life in prison.

“He could have faced five life sentences if convicted, and then there is the possibility of those being stacked,” Bradley said. “Frankly, I don’t think you’d find another county in Texas where someone would plead guilty to five aggravated counts without a jury trial.”

Bradley said there was a large amount of evidence that would have helped convict Zapata if the case had gone to trial.

While there’s no issue with the sentence that Mr. Zapata received for his crime, nor will there be outrage similar to that of the Rian sentence. This shines more light on the sentence was that was given to Roger Dale Proctor earlier this year, allowing him to plead to solicitation. Proctor was given 5 years probation, A $2,500 fine, and maybe 30 days in jail for his similar crime of a years long relationship with a minor. While obviously Zapata’s prior conviction added to his sentence, this sentence further highlights the leniency that was shown a former peace officer for a similar crime.

1 Comment »

  1. timefornew said,

    September 30, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    There’s a saying in Williamson County – “Probation for the innocent and jail time for the guilty”. That is why Proctor was offered probation. Wilco attorneys don’t seem to care about justice, it’s about convictions. When you are innocent and the only evidence against you is a child’s word; well, I wouldn’t want to test it before a jury.

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