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story.lead_photo.caption Jimmy Mathis

A Texas appellate court has affirmed the conviction and life sentence of a man convicted by a Bowie County jury last year of molesting a child.

Jimmy Lee Mathis, 65, was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child in August at the end of a trial before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Mathis sexually abused a 10-year-old girl who lived near him in a Texarkana, Texas, apartment complex on Main Street in 2014 and 2015.

At trial, the girl testified that Mathis befriended her mother and would give her money and trinkets. The girl said Mathis sexually assaulted her in an area outside the apartment building and threatened to kill her family if she told.

On appeal Mathis argued that testimony shouldn't have been allowed from a forensic interviewer who discussed the case with the girl at the Texarkana Children's Advocacy Center. Mathis' appeal complained that the interviewer wasn't sufficiently qualified as an expert witness but at trial, Mathis' defense lawyer objected to the interviewer's testimony as unfairly bolstering the victim's testimony.

The 6th Court of Appeals headquartered in Texarkana issued an opinion Thursday which ruled that the issue of whether the interviewer was qualified to testify as an expert wasn't raised by the defense at trial and therefore the argument had not been preserved for argument on appeal. The higher court affirmed Mathis' conviction and sentence.

Mathis, who has a lengthy criminal history, is currently serving his term at the Ramsey Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division. According to the TDCJ website, Mathis will be eligible for parole May 30, 2047.

Should Mathis wish to continue to seek post-conviction relief, he can take his case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

 

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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