Damian Merrick was facing two charges of child sexual assault after he was accused of raping two girls, but he was only found guilty on one count. He was also found guilty providing marijuana to the teen girls.
Jurors spent most of the day on Friday deliberating before reaching a guilty verdict.
Prosecutors argued that Merrick used alcohol and drugs to lure the teens during a team trip to Colorado.
Defense attorneys argued before the jury that Merrick had lost everything but his freedom. During closing arguments, the defense told the jury the state had left too much reasonable doubt. They pointed to inconsistent stories by two girls who testified Merrick sexually assaulted them when they were 16 and played on his volleyball team.
The jury deliberated for nearly 7 hours before reaching their verdict.
During closing arguments, attorneys from both sides made their points with the jury.
A Grapevine police detective testified Merrick had a sexual relationship with one of those girls for three months and raped a second girl in the bathroom at her friend’s house.
Merrick’s daughter tried to defend him. She spoke on his behalf and said he never gave her drugs or alcohol, but she broke down crying after prosecutors poked holes in her testimony.
The judge began testimony of the punishment phase of the trial Friday afternoon.
Man, woman charged with child abuse in recent shootings after reported drug deal
KANSAS CITY, MO – A Belton man and his girlfriend have been charged with child abuse and child endangerment for firing weapons near the children during a reported drug deal, resulting in one of their children being shot.
Darrell Roberson, 28, and Roselynn S. Kuntz, 25, each face child abuse and two counts of first-degree child endangerment charges. Prosecutors have requested a bond of $100,000 cash for each of them.
According to court records, police responded on Thursday evening to the scene of a shooting behind a Church’s Chicken near Prospect Avenue and Gregory Boulevard.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker voiced frustration at the individuals who were charged.
“One shouldn’t need to state this out loud but that’s a very dangerous business that they chose to bring their children to,” she said.
They found a man shot to death in the parking lot and the defendants with two children, ages 2 and 3. Family members confirm to KCTV5 News that the couple’s 2-year-old girl named Reign was caught in the gunfire.
“The children in this vehicle are literally in the crossfire,” Baker said.
According to a GoFundMe page set up by Reign’s aunt, the child was shot in the left side of her head. Kuntz was shot in the back. Emergency surgery was performed on the child.
Jackson, MS – Four people have been arrested and charged with child abuse after an eight-month old baby had a seizure from meth exposure in Clay County.
Mark McNutt, Jr., 25 and Courtney Witinole, 22, were each charged with one count of child deprivation of necessities with substantial harm.
Samantha McNutt, 24 and Justin Klutts, 36,
the boy’s parents, were each charged with one count of child abuse.
Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott said the child started having seizures at home and Samantha McNutt took the infant to the hospital.
The child was airlifted to Jackson where tests concluded he had meth in his system.
Scott said investigators were still trying to determine if the boy had meth in his system from exposure or consumption. However, a preliminary investigation led them to believe the infant was exposed to meth.
A meth lab was not found in the home and the parents did not have meth in their possession at the time of their arrest.
“If they’re going to be crazy enough to put this stuff in their system that’s one thing but an innocent child… we’re pretty upset about it,” Scott said. “You can rest assured this is going to be my focus from here on out.”
Samantha McNutt and Klutts each received a $50,000 bond. Mark McNutt each received a bond of $10,000. Witinole received a bond of $5,000.
Euless police officer moved to Texas for safety,
public support, friends say
EULESS, TX – Senior police officer David Hofer’s Facebook page is filled with photos of his fiancee, Marta Danylyk, showing the young couple’s excitement at a promising future.
Those dreams ended in gunfire Tuesday afternoon at J.A. Carr Park in Euless.
On Wednesday, several Euless officers wiped away tears as they talked with fellow officers in the department parking lot about their slain comrade, who had been with the department about two years.
“David truly enjoyed helping people and led with a servant’s heart,” Lt. Wayne Pavlik said in an email. Pavlik commands the patrol division where Hofer, 29, worked in Euless.
“If you had the fortunate opportunity to meet him, you would have found him to be a very warm and cheerful individual who would go out of his way to help anyone,” Pavlik wrote.
Hofer was a New York City officer from 2009 to 2014 in Manhattan’s 9th Precinct.
“Amongst all this sadness, something I think, is that if he had to go, this is how he would have wanted it to happen — honorably.”
David Hofer’s friend Jesse Barocas
A friend who had known him since the fourth grade said Hofer’s police beat included Union Square, where he dealt with dicey situations.
Jesse Barocas, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said Hofer told him he didn’t think the people in New York respected their police officers as much as the people in Texas did.
“He felt it was safer in Texas,” Barocas said by phone Wednesday night. “He felt the community rallied around police officers more.”
So Hofer moved to Texas with his girlfriend, Danylyk, to whom he had recently proposed. They had just finished building a house in Plano and were encouraging his New York friends to visit.
Hofer was fatally shot Tuesday afternoon by a man who was then gunned down by other Euless officers.
“He felt it was safer in Texas. He felt the community rallied around police officers more.”
“He was a wonderful child, a wonderful police officer,” his mother, Sofija Hofer, told the New York Post Tuesday. Hofer moved to Texas to be an officer in a safer place, she said.
Sofija Hofer told a Star-Telegram reporter that she was in “no shape to give interviews or talk” Wednesday evening.
Hofer’s Facebook page, still up on Wednesday, has a photo of the officer on one knee, proposing to Danylyk in January 2015. Another photo shows him enjoying food at a festival with Danylyk in June 2014.
Pavlik called Hofer an exceptional police officer, person and friend to everyone in the Police Department and the community.
He had received eight commendation letters as a patrol officer.
“David had outstanding investigative and people skills, was extremely intuitive, and was an officer who exemplified our profession,” the lieutenant said.
His mother told the Post that Hofer had wanted to be a police officer since he was a boy. “He was so brave,” his mother told the Post, saying he wanted to write a book about his NYPD experience.
“Amongst all this sadness, something I think, is that if he had to go, this is how he would have wanted it to happen — honorably,” Barocas said. “He understood the risk, he signed up for it, he lived it, he owned it and he believed in it.
“In a time where there is so much tension between the police and the public — this was a good one. He lived and breathed the brothers in blue.”
Hofer was the son of European immigrants, graduated from St. Ann’s High School in Brooklyn and earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University in 2008.
Another friend, Mark Baker, 35, an electrician in Brooklyn, said he never expected to hear that Hofer had been killed in Texas.
“To hear this happened in Texas,” Baker said with a sigh over the phone Wednesday night. “That’s something I would have expected to hear happened here” in New York.
Within hours of Hofer’s death, officers from New York’s 9th Precinct had sent condolences via Twitter.
Officers killed in Tarrant County in line of duty since 2001
March 1, 2016: Euless officer David Hofer, 29, was fatally shot during a gunfight in a neighborhood park.
Dec. 28, 2010: Arlington officer Jillian Michelle Smith was shot in the head after arriving at an apartment to take a domestic dispute report.
Jan. 13, 2010: Arlington officer Craig Gordon Story died after his motorcycle crashed into a school bus on South Cooper Street while he was attempting to pull over a speeding motorist.
Dec. 17, 2006: Fort Worth officer Dwayne Freeto’s patrol car was rear-ended and burst into flames on Interstate 35W.
Dec. 1, 2005: Fort Worth officer Henry “Hank” Nava died two days after he was shot while searching for a fugitive.
July 29, 2004: River Oaks officer Nathan Laurie was killed in a collision while chasing a stolen pickup truck.
June 18, 2004: Grand Prairie officer Gregory Hunter was killed and officer Bruce Seix was wounded by a man in a parked van during a standoff in a Grand Prairie Wal-Mart parking lot.
June 12, 2004: Grapevine officer Darren Medlin was hit and killed by a car at the scene of a traffic stop on Texas 121.
April 24, 2002: White Settlement police Capt. George Scott Monier, 37, was shot and killed when he responded to a domestic disturbance call involving a gun.
June 7, 2001: Arlington police Cpl. Joseph Cushman, 27, was accidentally shot and killed during training.
Compiled by news researcher Cathy Belcher from the Officer Down Memorial Page, http://www.odmp.org and the Star-Telegram archives