Tensions were high during court this week as jury selection and jury trials took place at the Tom Green County Court. Brett A. Brooksmith, 51, and Justin Riordan, 30, were among those who faced the judges for their sentences.
Brooksmith was facing three counts of Injury to Child with Intent of Bodily Injury with previous convictions of two counts of Indecency with a Child Exposure and failure to Register as a Sex Offender.
On Tuesday, Brooksmith waived his right to a jury trial and decided to take the plea the state offered him. The plea included that Brooksmith plead guilty to the current charges and plead true to the enhancements to habitual paragraphs, which included his previous convictions.
Brooksmith agreed and the judge accepted without objection and ultimately found Brooksmith guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. He was sentenced to 25 years confinement in the TDCJ Institutional Division for each count, but the 25 years is to run concurrently (parallel, at the same time).
He was released to the Sheriff’s Department until he can be transferred to the proper facility. Brooksmith also waived his right for an appeal or the ability to file a new motion.
Also on Tuesday, the jury selection for Riordan took place so his trial could begin on Wednesday.
Wednesday consisted of a full day of witness and evidence examination for Riordan, who is facing an Aggravated Sexual Assault Child charge that is claimed to have occurred February of 2014. He is currently pleading not guilty.
According to complaint, on Feb. 22, 2014 Riordan attended a barbeque gathering in Miles where the victim was staying. During the gathering, the girl consumed large amounts of alcohol without the consent of her guardians and stayed up with Riordan, and two other members, after guests had left and family had fallen asleep. The victim had fallen asleep with the two other members on the sectional couch whereas Riordan positioned himself in the recliner.
At some time around 1 a.m., Riordan positioned himself on top of the victim where he forcibly sexually assaulted her and demanded that she not speak of it to anyone.
Two days later, a sexual assault examination confirmed that the victim had indeed been sexually assaulted.
Riordan is requesting the Jury to grant him Community Supervision, if convicted, as he has no prior convictions. Riordan is currently out on bond and is sticking to his not guilty plea.
During Wednesday's jury trial, several witnesses were interviewed and a reoccurring theme became present because the incident happened almost exactly two years ago. “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember” were common responses from witnesses. Even though most of these witnesses were at the same barbeque, none of their stories are exactly the same, and many of the details are different depending on the person. However, there is one thing they can all agree on and that is which lights were left on in the house. Also, no one was drunk even though alcohol was involved.
Details such as who sat where on the sectional couch, who went to get breakfast, who went into the store, who was drinking, who wasn’t and who called whom on the phone were among the details that varied among witnesses. The State did mention that the first six witnesses were there reluctantly. They are close friends of Riordan.
Another flaw in the case brought to attention was the Tom Green Sheriff’s Office Investigator did not follow the proper procedures for the investigation of the case. Additionally, the call to the Sheriff’s Office stating an incident occurred wasn’t reported until about 36 hours after.
However, the investigator only initially interviewed three of the approximate 10 people who were at the barbeque, and stated she had no intention of interviewing any others, not even Riordan. It wasn’t until October of 2015 that she decided to interview another selected three, a full year and half after the incident occurred.
In addition to this, evidence other than the “supposed” clothes of the victim were not taken. The clothes were taken into custody when the victim went to Shannon Medical Center the next day after the incident for medical examination. Three months later, the investigator then decided to go back to the residence to take photos of the crime scene, but didn’t take any evidence because she was told by a witness that there was none.
The flaws in this case are being brought forth with a magnifying glass and a huge flashlight. Riordan’s jury trial will continue through Thursday.