NEW BOSTON, Texas —A Bowie County jury found a Texarkana man guilty Wednesday of repeatedly abusing a girl who was a 5-year-old when the misconduct began.
The jury of seven men and five women was instructed by 202nd District Judge John Tidwell to return to the courthouse today morning to hear testimony concerning the punishment Quartshezz Lewis, 31, should receive. Lewis was convicted Wednesday of continuous sexual abuse of a child. He faces 25 to 99 years or life in prison and there is no parole from any sentence imposed for continuous sexual abuse of a child.
The jury found Lewis guilty of molesting a girl, now 11, who was 5 and 6 years of age when the abuse occurred in 2013 and 2014 in a Texarkana, Texas, apartment where she stayed with a relative when her mother worked nights at a nursing home. The jury also heard testimony from a second girl, now 14, who provided a similar account. Charges concerning the girl who is now 14 remain pending against Lewis.
The two girls do not know each other.
One is connected to Lewis because of his years-long relationship with a close female relative of her and her mother and the other is connected to Lewis through his extended family.
The girls both testified that Lewis abused them in the same Texarkana, Texas, apartment where Lewis resided off and on for multiple years between 2011 and 2015.
Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards argued in her closing remarks that the jury could find Lewis guilty based on the testimony of the victim alone but that additional witness testimony was offered to make a guilty verdict easier to reach. Richards also pointed to testimony from Texarkana, Texas, Detective D.E. Evans about an offer Lewis made in a jailhouse phone call.
Evans testified that Lewis offered to pay the victim's mother $4,000 or $5,000 if she would arrange for the charges to be dismissed in a phone call with a close family member of the victim's mother. The offer was never conveyed to the victim's mother but Richards argued that it is evidence of "consciousness of guilt."
Texarkana lawyer Jeff Harrelson argued that the state didn't establish the elements required to prove continuous sexual abuse of a child, which requires a finding that the defendant committed two or more acts of sexual abuse in a period of more than 30 days in duration. Harrelson also pointed out that the case is based solely on witness testimony as no physical evidence supports the victim's claim.
Both of the girls who testified against Lewis made outcries of abuse years after it would have been possible to collect physical evidence. Two staff members with the Texarkana Children's Advocacy Center testified that it is common for young victims of abuse to make "delayed outcries."
One of the girl's testified that she disclosed after her mother told her that if anyone ever touched her in certain areas of her body she should tell her.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp argued in closing remarks that the similarity of the accounts given by the two girls could not be overlooked.
"You'd have to believe these two girls who don't know each other concocted these stories and came in here to have fun," Crisp argued.
The jury is expected to hear testimony and arguments this morning regarding the sentence Lewis should receive. A final verdict is expected sometime today.