Man Sentenced to Life in Prison after Second Guilty Conviction

July 31, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Sex Crimes

A man in Florida has just been resentenced to life in prison for a sexual battery charge. The case was originally closed in 2012 with a guilty verdict, but was then overturned and called for retrial after a 2018 appeal by the defense team.

We will cover the details of the case along with sexual battery charges on a minor under the age of 12 in Florida.

What was the original case?

Thurston McBride was arrested and found guilty in 2012 for sexual battery on a child younger than 12-years-old. The unnamed victim was 5 years old at the time of the abuse, and had been living with his godmother who was married to the defendant.

According to the victim, McBride had gotten upset with the young boy for falling asleep in the bathtub. The child was ordered to go to his room by McBride, where he allegedly sexually battered him.

Years went by without the victim reporting the abuse, which is common in cases of child sexual abuse. When the victim was around 11-years-old, he became withdrawn and depressed, up to the point of writing a suicide note. His school teacher found the note and reported it to the school, which then got the Department of Children and Families involved.

The victim claimed that both his godmother and godsister were aware of the abuse. He also stated that his sister had picked the lock to his room and tried to get McBride off him, shouting at him to “get out.” During the first trial, the sister denied ever knowing of the abuse or going into his room.

The victim said he started skipping school, because he was “just afraid of the world.” He admitted to skipping school for two weeks. He also stated that McBride had previously physically abused and whipped him to the point where the victim could not stand. He claimed he was in the hospital for two weeks—the state did not present any hospital records to verify the claim.

The defense team argued that the godmother and godsister had no knowledge of any abuse, and that the last time the godmother saw McBride was supposedly 2004. However the jury found McBride guilty, and he was sentenced the mandatory life sentence.

McBride and his team filed several motions to appeal the sentence, arguing that the trial court reversibly made a mistake in allowing the state to cross-examine the defendant and the godmother concerning inadmissible collateral crime evidence.

The conviction was then thrown out due to the 2018 appeal, and led to a retrial. One of the major grounds that led to the retrial was the credibility of the victim. Specifically, the victim testified to skipping school for two weeks, but the attendance record did not reflect that the victim was absent for two weeks. The victim only missed one to three days per quarter. McBride’s trial team failed to investigate the attendance record to either confirm or deny the victim’s claim that he had missed two weeks of school. The appeals court found that “given the victim’s credibility was the key issue in this case, we find that the failure to investigate and obtain the victim’s school records is sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome of the trial.”

Retrial 10 Years Later

The retrial for the case against McBride came to a close on July 20th, 2022. The victim—now an adult—testified once again. According to the State Attorney’s Office for the Second Judicial Circuit of Florida, McBride was found guilty for a second time for battery against a child under the age of 12.

Now with his second guilty conviction, McBride has been sentenced to life in prison. He will also be classified as a sexual predator in the state of Florida.

“The victim showed tremendous strength and courage under circumstances that no one, especially a child, should have to endure,” the press release said of the victim. “Cases like this could not be investigated and brought to justice without caring school administrators…the tireless work of the Child Protection Team, and the State Attorney’s Office Victim Advocate Unit.”

Sexual Battery on a Child Under 12

Sexual battery is a very serious charge, defined under Florida Statute 794.011 as the vaginal, oral, or anal penetration, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal penetration of another by any other object. The severity of the charge varies depending on the age of the victim and the accused individual.

If a defendant over the age of 18 is accused of committing sexual battery on a person under the age of 12, it is considered a capital felony. Getting convicted of a capital felony is one of the harshest punishments in Florida, and can result in life in prison or the death penalty.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a sexual battery charge, it is in your best interest to immediately seek out the help of a skilled sex crime defense attorney. Sexual battery is an extremely serious charge in the state of Florida, especially if the alleged victim is a minor. Along with expensive fines and prison time, a guilty conviction can lead to a lifetime on the sex offender list, and prevent you from finding a job or house in the future. There is too much at stake to not take a sexual battery charge seriously. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients across the state for various criminal charges. We will stand by your side throughout the entire legal process, and fight for your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message for a free consultation.

 Written by Karissa Key

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