Life sentences upheld in molestation case
Mar 07, 2013 | 1312 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana on Friday affirmed two life sentences and two $10,000 fines assessed by an Upshur County Jury against 27-year-old Johnathan J. Darden on charges of child molestation.

He was both convicted and sentenced by the same jury in February, 2012, with 115th District Judge Lauren Parish presiding. At the original trial, the State was represented by Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd. On appeal, the State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Natalie Miller.

Byrd said that the Darden case was initially reported to the Gilmer Police Department after he took his girlfriend’s daughter, who was under 14 at the time, and did not return her to her residence until July 1, 2011, the next morning.

Byrd said that Darden, his girlfriend and her daughter were living with Darden’s mother in Gilmer at the time.

When Darden arrived back at the home, Gilmer police were waiting on him because the child’s mother had reported that the girl had been taken.

The defendant was arrested and the child was briefly interviewed by Gilmer Police Investigator Roxanne Warren.

Investigator Warren sent the child to a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), and an exam was performed.

After the exam found physical evidence consistent with abuse, the child began to talk more freely with investigators, Byrd said.

She testified at the trial and was able to identify the motel she had been taken to, Byrd said.

Byrd said the child reported that this was not the first time the defendant had sexually abused her, and that led to the Grand Jury having issued two indictments for Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child against Darden.

At trial, Darden was represented by Gilmer attorney Brandon Winn. On appeal, Gilmer attorney Tim Cone represented him.

“Credit for success in this case should go to Investigator Warren and Gilmer Police Lt. Mark Case, and with our citizens who continue to serve their fellow citizens from the jury box to see that justice is done,” Byrd said.
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