Jury acquits man accused of sexual indecency

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A man accused of indecency with a child by sexual contact was acquitted Thursday by a Bowie County jury.
Maurice Johnson, 41, was accused of touching the girl inappropriately between October 2016 and March 2017 while he was dating the girl’s mother. Johnson denied any misconduct in a videotaped interview of him with a Texarkana, Texas, police detective played for the jury but he did not testify during the trial.
The alleged victim and her younger sister both testified that Johnson repeatedly touched them on their breasts and buttocks on top of their clothing. The girls’ younger brother testified that he witnessed Johnson inappropriately touching his sisters.
Johnson was defended by Chief Public Defender Rick Shumaker and Clayton Haas, also of the Bowie County Public Defenders Office. Shumaker and Haas argued that the accounts given at trial were inconsistent and that reasonable doubt as to Johnson’s guilt existed.
First Assistant District Attorney Michael Shepherd and Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter argued that the accounts provided by the young witnesses were credible and urged the jury to convict.
After deliberating for several hours Wednesday, the jury sent a note to 202nd District Judge John Tidwell stating they could not reach a unanimous verdict. Tidwell put the jury in an evening recess and instructed the jury to return to court Thursday morning to continue deliberating. After several more hours of deliberation Thursday, the jury returned with an acquittal.
However, a charge of indecency with a child by sexual contact remains pending against Johnson in connection with allegations made by the younger girl. A date for trial in that case has not been announced.
Indecency with a child by sexual contact is punishable by two to 20 years in prison. In the case for which Johnson was tried this week, prosecutors sought to enhance the punishment to five to 99 years or life because of a prior felony conviction.
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