Brackens Found Not Guilty In Sexual Assault Case
CONGRATULATIONS HARLI HUNT and her horse Heza Lee Delight (AKA Casper) on a job well done!! Harli and Heza took 3rd place (Top 5 Show) at the American Youth Paint Horse World Show held June 28, 2014, at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Ft. Worth. Harli received a $500.00 scholarship, a Top 5 Show jacket, monogram halter and a Top 5 Show buckle. Harli (11 years old) was interviewed by the Paint Horse Journal that should come out in August or September. She is the Vice President of Eagle Country 4-H and the daughter of Jerry and Tanise Hunt of Fairfield.
A jury of 12 Freestone County residents took about five hours of deliberation to return a verdict of not guilty on all charges against Fairfield High School Coach Ladonna Brackens last Friday afternoon in Fairfield.
Brackens was facing one count of sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child after being accused of watching while Fairfield Pastor Anthony Thibodeaux allegedly sexually assaulted a teenager. Thibodeaux was convicted of the same charges Brackens faced and sentenced to 10 years in prison in December 2013.
?We are very pleased with the verdict,? said defense attorney David Moore. ?Whenever you are accused of this type of crime it ruins your reputation. We plan to work on expunging Ms. Brackens? name from these charges.?
?It?s just a sigh of relief. I just said thank you God for answering my prayers. When people that you love and people that you help turn on you and you don?t know the reason why, it?s very hurtful,? Brackens was quoted as saying to a Waco news station.
Defense attorney Moore said that Thibodeaux?s trial may be looked into again. He said there was new evidence revealed in this trial that may conceivably help Thibodeaux.
Jury selection began Monday of last week in the 87th Judicial District Court presided over by Judge Patrick Simmons. The 12-member jury was selected out of a pool of 350 individuals. Testimony began Tuesday with the state having to do some damage control as the now 16-year old victim took the stand Tuesday and apologized for lying under oath at Anthony Thibodeaux?s trial last December. Sources say the victim reportedly admitted to not telling the truth about a series of text messages between her and Brackens and her and Thibodeaux after the alleged rape took place. She reportedly added that ?it happened? and now that she is older, she wouldn?t lie again.
News reports from the trial say that the state rested its case first thing Thursday morning with the defense calling their own witnesses throughout the day Thursday. Brackens elected not to testify on her own behalf.
Closing arguments began Friday morning after the charges against Brackens were read to the jury. The jury returned the not guilty verdict at 3:43 p.m. Friday afternoon ending a case that had divided a number of friendships throughout the community.