NEW BOSTON, Texas —A Bowie County jury sentenced a New Boston man to 40 years in prison Thursday after finding him guilty of sexually assaulting the mother of his children at knifepoint.
Brandon Lee Harrison, 31, was found guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 40 years on each charge. Because the offenses were committed in a single criminal episode, 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart ordered the sentences to run concurrently. Because of the use of a deadly weapon during the assaults, Harrison must serve at least half of his sentence before he can be considered for parole. Harrison must register as a sex offender upon release from prison.
Harrison left his Texarkana apartment the night of Sept. 14, 2017, and arrived at a friend's home in New Boston the following morning, according to witness testimony used to create the following account. After finishing the approximately 20-mile walk, Harrison walked a short distance to the house he once shared with the mother of his two children, kicked in a door and went inside.
Hours later, after the woman returned home and was going about her business, Harrison emerged from hiding wielding a long-bladed kitchen knife. Harrison held the knife to the victim's throat, choked her, slapped her and sexually assaulted her. While being held against her will, the victim managed to send text messages to her boyfriend asking for help.
When he realized police were outside, Harrison pulled a pair of the victim's panties from his pocket and threw them on a table. A short time later he was escorted to jail.
On Thursday, the jury heard from four other women who claim they have experienced Harrison's physical and sexual aggression. A woman who currently works as a correctional officer in the Bowie County jail testified that Harrison has been "fixated" on her since she began her employment in March.
The female officer said that she has learned that Harrison tells others he is in a relationship with her and that the two plan to move to Dallas and live together. The officer testified under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp that after receiving from Harrison a bouquet of flowers crafted from toilet paper and placed in a cup with a candy bar, she reported the situation to her lieutenant. Testimony from Harrison's sister, Chandra Hardwick, revealed that Harrison had asked her to contact the officer on his behalf via social media.
Under cross examination by Deborah Moore of the Bowie County Public Defenders Office, the officer was asked if she was aware that her complaint about Harrison had been dismissed. That led Crisp to call Bowie County Sheriff's Office Investigator David Biggar. Biggar testified that as a result of the complaint by the female officer, Harrison lost his commissary and visitation privileges for 30 days and was placed in administrative segregation for 30 days.
A woman who worked as a correctional officer at the Barry Telford Unit in New Boston in 2012 during a time when Harrison worked there as a sergeant testified Wednesday that Harrison assaulted her at the prison while the two were in a locked area away from cameras. Two other female correctional officers testified they were sexually harassed, touched and had their movements restrained by Harrison when he worked as their sergeant.
Moore and Public Defender Clayton Haas asked the jury to sentence Harrison to 10 or fewer years and recommend a term of probation. Because he has no prior felony convictions, Harrison was able to receive probation should the jury assess a term of 10 years or less and if the jury recommended it.
Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards argued that the crimes committed by Harrison merit a punishment on the high end of the range allowed under Texas law —five to 99 years or life in prison.
"Probation is something you give someone who has made a mistake and accepts responsibility for their actions," Richards argued. "This person treats women like objects, like something he can just take."
Crisp argued that Harrison's misconduct has been escalating for some time.
"When this kind of behavior goes unchecked this is where we end up," Crisp argued. "In broad daylight with a woman held hostage and raped in her own house."