Monday, January 14, 2013

Texas jury gives ex-blogger 10 years each on 4 counts in connection with 2007 child sexual assault

By David Webb

CORSICANA, TX -- A Navarro County jury handed down four 10-year sentences to ex-blogger Joey Dauben  on Jan. 14 in connection with a 2007 sexual assault on a 14-year-old male teenager.

The jury of 7 men and 5 women deliberated about two and one-half hours before reaching the punishment verdict. It granted probation and suspended a $2,500 fine on one count of indecency with a child, but the jury denied probation and assessed $2,500 fines on the three counts of sexual assault involved in the crime that occurred during a church camping trip at a lake park.

Judge James Lagomarsino of 13th District Court will consider next week a prosecution motion to stack the charges rather than allowing Dauben to serve them concurrently. The judge delayed ruling on the motion until the probation department can conduct a pre-sentencing investigation.

If the judge grants the prosecution motion Dauben's initial sentence will be 30 years in prison, but it will drop to 10 years if the judge denies it.

The jury could have given Dauben sentences of anywhere from two to 20 years on each count with  fines of up to $10,000. He will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least half of his sentence, which does not take into consideration time off for good behavior.

Defense attorney Ed Jendrzey urged the jury to grant probation on all counts of the conviction that was reached Jan. 11 in the six-day trial. He called it a "strange case", and he urged the jury to grant Dauben "mercy."

He called the crime a one-time aberration that occurred during a late-night drinking binge during the camping trip. The victim, who is now 20, testified that he willingly participated in the sexual activity.

Jendrzey said Dauben needed treatment rather incarceration. He noted that the ex-blogger is small and not strong, and he could be severely injured or even killed in prison.

"Do you want Joey to be locked up and tatooed up?" Jendrzey said. "Use your common sense. You know what happens in prison."

Assistant Prosecutor Andrew Wolf said the jury needed to send a message that sexual assault is the type of crime that will not be tolerated in Navarro County.

"I don't believe that is the kind of person you give probation to," Wolf said. "Let the punishment fit the crime."

Wolf suggested the jury start with 20 years on each count and "chip away" at it if they found any redeeming value in Dauben,

Dauben said just prior to the jury returning its punishment verdict that he would not complain about what sentence he received, which he expected would involve him spending time in prison.

"I've been prepared for this for a long time," said Dauben, who noted during trial testimony that drinking with the teenager and going out in a boat with him had been the biggest mistake of his life. "I'm being held accountable now, and I'm going to take responsibility for it."

Several witnesses testified for Dauben in a hearing prior to the charging instructions being read to the jury. They all described him as someone who was "good-hearted" and helpful to them in the past.

Neither the victim nor any members of his family attended the trial after testifying against him at the beginning.

Dauben was taken into custody at the Navarro County Jail at the conclusion of the trial.

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