Friday, June 12, 2009
Jerry Lee Guth Guilty of Sexually Assaulting Teen Boy
Jerry Lee Guth was found guilty Thursday of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in 2007.
The 29-year-old Lindale man, who is hearing impaired and uses sign language interpreters, was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child for the alleged Oct. 24, 2007, incident.
After five hours of deliberation, the jury in 241st District Judge Jack Skeen Jr.'s court convicted him of the lesser-included offense of sexual assault of a child. The charge is aggravated if the child is younger than 14 and is not aggravated if the child is 14 or older but younger than 17. The jury will return today for the punishment phase. Guth faces two to 20 years in prison.
John White is the pseudonym used in the indictment for the victim to protect his identity.
White testified he couldn't remember the date Guth raped him but said he believed it was before his 14th birthday.
During a videotaped interview Lindale police conducted with Guth on June 30, 2008, the defendant admitted he had sex with White but said it was consensual and that the incident occurred Oct. 24, 2007, when the boy was 13.
During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Joe Murphy said the victim testified, crying and alone, for three hours about what happened to him and he was called a liar. He said to believe the victim was 14, not 13, at the time of the incident, the jury would have to call the victim a liar and not believe Guth's confession to police.
"The truth does not change," Murphy said, adding there were no inconsistencies in the victim's statements and that Guth lied repeatedly, changing the story he gave to police several times.
Murphy played a clip for the jury of the nearly three-hour interview Guth had with authorities, in which the defendant admitted he had consensual sex with the boy.
"Do you really think (the victim) went over there and wanted to have sex with him? No," Murphy said. He asked the jurors to find Guth guilty of aggravated sexual assault to show the victim they believed him.
"Justice is ending it today," he said. "Let him (White) start healing."
Defense attorney Don Davidson said the jurors had to presume Guth innocent unless and until the state proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He said Guth was the town nuisance, the village idiot and a "low-functioning person" and that there was no physical evidence connecting him to any kind of sexual crime. He said it came down to White's testimony and Guth's "so-called confession."
"If you have a reasonable doubt about what (White) is saying, then Jerry is not guilty," Davidson said. He asked the jurors how many times White said he wasn't sure about things when he was testifying. He asked why the boy waited so long to tell police about the assault.
Davidson said children make up stories and that the boy's tears on the witness stand may have been tears of regret. He said the "so-called confession" was a three-hour interview of police badgering and "taking this low-functioning town nuisance down." He said there was nothing Guth could have said or done during the interview to change things because he was already arrested for the crime. Ultimately, he told police what they wanted him to say, Davidson said.
"You are the last protection for the rights of the falsely accused," he said.
White was not sure of the date of the alleged incident, why he didn't tell anyone, if Guth threatened him or of what he saw or what object was used in Guth's dark bedroom, he said.
"All of those not sures mean not guilty. He's not guilty," Davidson said.
Murphy said people lie to get out of trouble; people don't lie to get on the witness stand for three hours and talk about a homosexual encounter. He said Davidson wanted to paint it as a frame up but police went above and beyond for Guth, hiring two certified sign language interpreters before they arrested and interviewed him; they did not force him to say he had sex with White. Murphy said no one but Davidson said Guth was low-functioning, and he went through four years of high school.
The victim, now 15, said he went to Guth's house several times to go swimming or to watch pornographic videos and television. Once while they were in his bedroom, White said Guth pushed him on the bed, pulled down his jeans, held him down and "raped me." He said he tried to fight him and was able to roll off the bed and leave. As he ran away, he saw Guth run his finger across his neck, as if slashing his throat, and White said he took it as a threat.
He said he didn't tell anyone what happened because he felt ashamed and embarrassed and was afraid Guth would hurt him again. On June, 24, 2008, White said Guth chased White, who was riding a bike, "halfway across town" on Guth's lawnmower. White rode to his friend's house, told him what Guth had done and his friend called police, he said.