Jury finds man guilty of molesting 12-year-old girl

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: A Bowie County jury convicted a 40-year-old New Boston man of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child Wednesday following about 30 minutes of deliberations.

Charles Edward Garton lived in a house on Meadow Drive with John Littleton, a man accused of trading drugs for sex with young girls, including the mother of the victim Garton was convicted Wednesday of abusing. Littleton, 71, died in June 2018 before he could be tried. A third man, Kenneth Nelson, charged in connection with the investigation into Littleton, was sentenced last year to multiple life sentences for human trafficking.

Garton lived in Littleton’s house for 13 years. The victim and her older sister moved in with Littleton when their grandparents, who had been caring for them, became too sick to care for them. The girls’ mother was not able to care for them either.

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The victim testified Wednesday on direct examination by First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp that she and her sister felt their only options were to stay in Littleton’s house or go into foster care. The victim said that Garton bought food, clothing and cell phones for her and her sister but she received special treatment that included trips to nail salons, sleeping in his bedroom and sitting in his lap while he drove his truck.

The girl said Garton told her that he had feelings for her that went beyond those a father would have and often asked her to show him her breasts. The girl said she was in Garton’s room to play a game when he sexually assaulted her. The girl said she went to her sister’s room after the assault that included multiple types of abuse.

Garton testified Wednesday under questioning by his attorney, Bart Craytor of Texarkana, that the multiple videotaped confessions he gave to special agents with the Texas Department of Public Safety were coerced. Recordings showed to the jury did not appear to support Garton’s claim as the officers offered to fetch him a lighter for his cigarette and asked him straightforward questions to which he provided graphic descriptions of what he did to the victim. In a video interview of Garton with D.P.S. Special Agent Tony Galliton, Garton traces his hand on a piece of paper and marks the finger he used during the sexual abuse.

D.P.S. Special Agent Briscoe Davis testified under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Randle Smolarz that an agent became sick to his stomach after they executed a search warrant April 24, 2018, on the Meadow Drive house. Men’s underwear fouled and containing human feces hung on a door knob. Human and dog waste were scattered about the house and the overall conditions were described by the victim as “nasty.”

In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards noted the testimony of Texarkana Children’s Advocacy Center staff member Missy Davison. Davison described Garton’s special treatment of the victim as “grooming.”

The victim testified that she denied the abuse to Davison during an interview with her April 24, 2018, because she had made a “pinky promise” to Garton that she would not tell. The victim did reveal the abuse to a sexual assault nurse after learning that Garton had confessed.

Craytor argued that Garton was a hero for providing for the victim and her sister and for making sure they attended school. Crisp pointed to the D.P.S. investigators involved in the case as the real heroes.

The jury was given instructions to return to the Bowie County courthouse Thursday morning to begin hearing testimony in the punishment phase of Garton’s trial. He faces five to 99 years or life in prison on each of the two counts he was found guilty of committing Wednesday.

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