NEW BOSTON, Texas: A Texarkana man received five consecutive life sentences Thursday after being found guilty of giving teen girls drugs in exchange for sex.
Kenneth Dewayne Nelson, 63, was found guilty Thursday morning by a jury of five counts of continuous trafficking of persons. The state chose to drop two counts of sexual assault of a child. The jury deliberated guilt/innocence for just a few minutes before returning with five guilty verdicts.
During the punishment phase of Nelson’s trial Thursday, Texas Department of Public Safety Special Agent Briscoe Davis testified that Nelson’s phone showed he was routinely selling drugs and that he had thousands of cell phone contacts with the five teen he was found guilty of abusing. Nelson also received disability payments and spent his weekends gambling at casinos and horse races in Arkansas, Davis said.
Nelson testified during the punishment phase of trial. Under questioning from his lawyer, Charles Johnson of Houston, Nelson claimed he didn’t know the girls he was buying sex from with drugs and cash were underage.
“I’m not a bad person but I’ve done bad things,” Nelson said. “I’m angry at myself for my rise and fall.”
Nelson claimed he became addicted not to drugs but to “the lifestyle,” that came with selling narcotics. Nelson said the girls he is guilty of abusing “enticed” him and “pursued” him.
Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp grilled Nelson on cross examination. At one point, Nelson called one of his victims an habitual liar and claimed the girls were to blame for calling him when they wanted marijuana, Xanax and methamphetamine.
Crisp read the names of about five others whom Nelson allegedly abused as children. One of those named was allegedly filmed at age 14 while being sexually abused by John Littleton. Littleton died earlier this month before his trafficking case could be tried. Crisp said Nelson abused the victim also named in the Littleton case when she was 12.
“Cause I have admitted my sins,” Nelson replied when asked why the jury should show him mercy.
Nelson pleaded guilty on Tuesday but withdrew his guilty pleas Wednesday morning shortly before trial began.
Nelson said he shouldn’t be blamed, “…if someone pursues me, and they want it,” and mentioned that, “…the demons still lurk.”
In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards told the jury that the choice to have sex with underage girls, teens ages 13, 14, 15 and 16 was Nelson’s.
“He had the choice to answer his phone, he had the choice to drive across town and have sex with them,” Richards said. “Y’all have the choice today to send him away for life.”
While Nelson admitted he “took a long time” to remember the names of the victims in his trafficking case, Richards said she and the others involved in investigating and prosecuting the case will never forget them.
“Not a single one of us will leave this courtroom and not remember them,” Richards said, saying the names of the victims aloud. “Don’t let him forget. Make him sit there in the penitentiary with a life sentence and think of those names every single day.”
Johnson asked the jury to show mercy. Crisp asked the jury to write, “life, life, life, life, life,” on their verdict form.
“There are no children in the penitentiary,” Crisp said. “No more children from broken homes who have drug problems will be in his vicinity. He can’t control himself, but you can.”
After the jury sentenced Nelson to five life terms, 5th District Judge Bill Miller ordered the sentences to run consecutively.
The mother of victim one said she hopes the verdict gives the victims closure, adding that she feels peace knowing they are safe from Nelson now.
Victim four said the verdict has lifted her fear.
“I feel like you took away my sunshine and dulled my potential,” victim four said. “You will never make another girl feel the way you made all of us feel. This is for all the (reads list of victim’s names) and the ones who were too scared to get up here and testify. Enjoy the rest of your life.”