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A Texas appellate court in Texarkana affirmed Wednesday the conviction and sentence of life without parole a child molester received last year following a trial in Bowie County.

Todd Peck, 52, was found guilty of the continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 in Seaptember. The jury sentenced Peck to a maximum life term and there is no parole eligibility from a sentence imposed for the crime.

At trial, five witnesses ranging in age from 14 to 24 testified that Peck sexually abused them alone, in pairs and in groups.

Peck sought out vulnerable, at-risk girls whose mothers were struggling. Peck would take the girls in and encourage them to invite over their friends. Peck bragged that he found one girl at a garage sale.

It took a Bowie County jury about five minutes to return a guilty verdict and about the same amount of time to return with a life sentence following the trial's punishment phase.

"Todd Peck is easily one of the worst sexual predators we have ever prosecuted in Bowie County," First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said.

Criminal defendants are entitled to a lawyer to represent them at no charge on their first direct appeal of a conviction following a trial. Peck's lawyer filed a brief in the case declaring that no issues exist on which to base an argument for a new trial and reversal of the jury's verdict.

The higher court agreed.

Peck was given and took the opportunity to file a brief on his own behalf which is described in an opinion handed down Wednesday by the 6th District Court of Appeals in Texarkana as "frivolous."

"At trial, the disturbing evidence of his guilt was so overwhelming, for the first time in my career, each member of the jury signed the verdict form. There is simply no way law enforcement could calculate the number of lives Todd Peck destroyed in pursuit of his sick obsession with small children. The Court of Appeals found that there were no errors in Peck's trial, thereby affirming his conviction and sentence," Crisp said. "Todd Peck will never again in his lifetime be a free man."

Peck is currently being held at the Hughes Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Gatesville, Texas.

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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