The two aggravated sexual assault convictions and 45-year consecutive prison sentences a Joshua man was given by a Parker County jury in July 2019 were upheld Wednesday in a decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Patrick Edward Winchester, 44, was convicted for making two different 9-year-old girls perform oral sex on him, one in 2008 and another in 2012. Both occurred at his home in unincorporated Parker County near Reno and Springtown.
“When the girls came forward in 2017 and told law enforcement what had happened to them, their outcries were both graphic and remarkably similar,” said Parker County District Attorney Jeff Swain. “Their credibility was apparent to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office investigator who worked on the case as well as the jury who heard their testimony.”
“Throughout the time we were working with them prior to and during trial, both of these girls bravely fought through some awful memories in order to finally get the justice they deserved,” said Assistant District Attorney Abby Placke, who tried the case along with Assistant District Attorney Susan Pruett. “We were proud to be able work on their behalf.”
In his appeal, Winchester contended that the instructions given to the jury at both the guilt-innocence and punishment phases were erroneous. In December, the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth overruled these complaints, emphasizing that one had been previously determined not to subject a case to reversal and the other was statutorily required under Texas law.
He also said that the prosecution vouched for the credibility of the victims during closing argument. In their opinion, the court of appeals wrote that, in general, the prosecution was answering the closing argument of defense counsel and focusing on the testimony before the jury. However, they also held that any statement by the prosecution during argument that did express the personal belief of the prosecutor that the victims were credible was harmless in light of all of the evidence presented.
On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined to accept Winchester’s petition for discretionary review.
“The Court of Criminal Appeals is our state’s highest court for criminal cases,” said Assistant District Attorney Debra Windsor, who handled the appeal for the prosecution. “They have the discretion to choose which cases they hear and which they decline, usually choosing cases with novel legal challenges. The CCA’s decision to decline his case likely ends Mr. Winchester’s appellate efforts.”
During the punishment portion of the trial, court records were admitted, showing that Winchester had prior convictions for burglary of a habitation, felony criminal mischief, and that he was on probation in Johnson County for felony evading arrest with a vehicle. They also heard testimony from a woman who said that, while they were in a relationship, Winchester used cocaine, methamphetamine, and had sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions.
After jurors returned with their punishment verdicts, 43rd District Judge Craig Towson, who presided over the trial, pronounced that the sentences would run consecutively.
“Judge Towson’s decision to stack the sentences was very important,” Pruett said. “It was a decision that will keep our community safe until Mr. Winchester is at least 86 years old, which is when he first will become parole eligible. At that point, the decision will be up to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.”