ATHENS — It took less than 30 minutes for a Henderson County jury of 11 women and 1 man to sentence Horace “Joe” Barker, 47, of Athens, to life in the Texas Department of Corrections Friday morning after that same jury convicted him of aggravated sexual assault late Thursday night.
The trial which began Tuesday morning was held in Judge Carter Tarrance’s 392nd District Court.
The conviction stems from the 2003 rape of his six-year-old child. The trial began with testimony from the victim and her mother. The victim described for the jury in detail how Barker, the victim’s own biological father, forced her to have sex with him.
Shelia Durden of the Henderson County Help Center and Investigator Michael Shelley of the Henderson County Sherriff’s Office also testified during the trial. During sentencing, the jury also heard evidence that the defendant was previously convicted in 2007 of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old old girl and had physically abused several women that he had been in relationships with over a 20-year period.
In their closing arguments to the jury, prosecutors labedled Barker as a dangerous man with violent tendencies toward women and girls before asking the jurors to put him away for life.
“I would certainly consider this poetic justice” said District Attorney Scott McKee. “This defendant has spent his adult life abusing women and young girls and now 13 women (2 prosecutors and 11 jurors) have removed him from our community.”
McKee indicated that he is proud of the work the Henderson County Child Advocacy Center and Ray Nutt and his department did on this case. “We have worked hard over the past four years to approach these types of cases from a team perspective and today it paid off.”