Man gets 40 years for knifepoint sexual assault

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: A Bowie County jury sentenced a man to 40 years in prison Thursday after convicting him of two counts of aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon.

Brandon Lee Harrison, 31, received two 40-year sentences which 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart ordered to run concurrently because they were committed during the same criminal episode. Harrison must serve at least half of his sentence before becoming parole eligible and must register as a sex offender.

Witnesses testified Wednesday and Thursday that Harrison was obsessed with the idea of reconciling with the mother of his two young children and had repeatedly stated that he “wanted to make love to her one more time.” On the night of Sept. 14, 2017, Harrison began walking from his apartment in Texarkana to New Boston, about 20 miles away.

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On the morning of Sept. 15, 2017, Harrison arrived at a friend’s home in New Boston. Lance Johnson testified Wednesday that he was so concerned by Harrison’s demeanor that he had warned the mother of Harrison’s children that he might be in the area.

During the morning or day of Sept. 15, 2017, Harrison walked to the woman’s home, kicked in a door, went through her belongings and waited. When the woman returned home at about 3 p.m., she didn’t immediately notice the mangled side door. As she pulled a pair of pants from her dryer, the woman caught sight of the door and then the sight of Harrison running toward her with a large knife she’d once used to slice watermelon.

Harrison sexually assaulted the woman while holding a knife, choked her, slapped her and threatened her with a pair of scissors, witnesses testified. The woman was able to send text messages asking for help and New Boston police arrived and arrested Harrison.

The jury of nine men and three women heard testimony Wednesday and Thursday from four other women who claim they were sexually assaulted or harassed by Harrison. Three of the women testified that they were subjected to unwanted remarks, touching, assaults and harassment by Harrison when he worked as a sergeant at the Barry Telford Unit in New Boston in approximately 2012.

Thursday, the jury heard testimony from a female correctional who began working in the Bowie County jail in March. The officer testified that Harrison told others in the jail that she and Harrison were in a “relationship” and would someday move to Dallas together and get an apartment. The woman said that within the last several weeks Harrison gave her a cup with “toilet paper flowers and a Milky Way candy bar” as a gift.

The officer said she reported the situation to her lieutenant and a disciplinary case was filed. Harrison’s sister testified that Harrison had spoken of the officer and had asked her to contact her on social media.

Harrison’s defense attorneys, Deborah Moore and Clayton Haas of the Bowie County Public Defenders Office, asked the jury to sentence Harrison to probation as he has never before been convicted of a felony. Assistant District Attorneys Kelley Crisp and Lauren Richards argued that the violent and escalating nature of Harrison’s conduct warranted a far more severe punishment.

“I hope that none of us ever sees the day that a Bowie County jury puts a man on probation for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon,” Crisp argued. “When this behavior goes unchecked this is where we wind up. In broad daylight with a woman held hostage in her own home at knifepoint.”

Richards argued that Harrison should be locked up for the community’s protection.

“Probation is something you do for someone who realizes they’ve made a mistake and takes responsibility for their actions,” Richards said. “He treats women like objects, like something he can take. These women are not objects. They have faces and names. Those women are daughters, they’re sisters, they’re mothers, they’re friends. They didn’t deserve any of this.”

Crisp applauded the jury’s decision.

“The jury’s sentence of 40 years in the penitentiary is a victory not only for (the victim) but for the other women who’ve been subjected to Harrison’s abusive and degrading behavior,” Crisp said. “Harrison faced no consequences for his conduct for years, that changed today. Justice was served.”

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