Sunday, March 6, 2011

Northwest Houston serial rapist sentenced to life with parole possibility in 30 years

March 4, 2011, 5:18AM

A Houston man charged with five rapes and a murder in the Acres Homes neighborhood received a life sentence with the possibility of parole on Thursday. The same jury found LaMarques Devon McWilliams, 35, guilty last Friday of one aggravated sexual assault — a first-degree felony. The other rape charges were dismissed. He will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years in prison, according to his lawyer, Jacquelyn Carpenter.

McWilliams is accused of raping a woman who has pleaded guilty to prostitution three times in Harris County in the past two years, according to public records. The woman, who is not being named by the Houston Chronicle, testified during the guilt-innocence part of the trial.

After McWilliams was convicted on the single aggravated sexual assault charge, the prosecution presented DNA evidence that linked him to several other women, who testified during the penalty phase of the trial that they were raped by McWilliams.

McWilliams was arrested in August 2009 on two counts of aggravated sexual assault. A month later, he was charged with three more rapes and the death of Pamela Ann Goss, whose body was found in the Acres Homes area in 2006. McWilliams still faces a murder charge.

Carpenter said most of the women who testified this week worked as prostitutes.

"DNA shows evidence of sexual activity but it doesn't necessarily mean that the sexual activity was rape," the defense lawyer said. "If there were any sex, I believe it was consensual."

McWilliams did not testify, but has maintained his innocence. His lawyers have filed a notice of appeal.

Carpenter contends that her client was identified by police for political expediency as a way to calm fears about a rash of rapes and killings.

"They've been looking for someone for years," she said. "This was about showing the black community that we care that something is happening in (Acres Homes)."

A prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney's Office could not be reached for comment.

Acres Homes residents and local activists became alarmed by the possibility of a serial killer or serial rapist in the northwest Harris County community after several bodies were found along roadsides, ditches and empty lots beginning in 2006. During the same time, there were dozens of sexual assault reports in the area. The investigation became one of the largest in the history of the Houston Police Department, which formed a special task force and devoted what was described as unprecedented resources to chase leads.

That probe resulted in multiple arrests, but charges were filed against McWilliams and Bilford Dwight Junious, 40, who was accused of nine sexual assaults in Acres Homes over seven years. He was convicted on one rape charge in 2009 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The other charges were dismissed.

No comments: