Texarkana-based appellate court affirms Bowie County convictions Thursday

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The 6th District Court of Appeals in Texarkana affirmed life sentences in two cases which were decided last year by juries in Bowie County.

Takyme James, 41, was convicted last October of murder in the 2017 shooting death of Tony Sanders. James attended a football watching party at a private clubhouse which Sanders organized. While there, James became intoxicated and his behavior was disruptive. When Sanders asked James to leave, James became aggressive and the two engaged in a brief fistfight which left James on the floor with a black eye.

After leaving the party, James went to the home of his cousins, LaPrense Willis and Clarence Willis, and the three of them went to Sanders’ home in Texarkana, Texas. James, who was armed with a .380 handgun, confronted Sanders in his driveway and Sanders went inside and locked the door, telling his wife to hide in a back bedroom.

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One of the men kicked down the door and James fired a single round which hit Sanders in a major artery in his leg and pelvic area which caused him to quickly bleed to death.

James argued on appeal that there was not “sufficient” evidence to prove that he intended to cause bodily injury or death. The higher court disagreed with the argument and affirmed James’ conviction and life sentence.

The appellate court also affirmed a sentence of life without parole which was given to Rickey Willis, 56, following a trial in Bowie County in December for continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14.

Willis was convicted of molesting the daughter of a friend beginning when the girl was just 2 or 3 years of age. The jury at Willis’ trial also heard testimony from a victim Willis was found guilty of molesting in 1991 in Miller County, Ark., when she was just a few years old. A cousin of Willis’ testified that she was molested by Willis as a child as well.

After the jury convicted Willis of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, prosecutors asked for a mandatory life sentence because of Willis’ prior conviction in Miller County. The judge found that the crime Willis was convicted of in Arkansas is similar to a felony offense in Texas and imposed the mandatory conviction. There is no parole from any sentence received for continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 in Texas.

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