A former drug dealer with four convictions for domestic violence was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old family member.

Jurors in Waco’s 54th State District Court deliberated about 30 minutes before finding Raymond Grely Thornton, 59, guilty of two counts of sexual assault of a child.

Because of Thornton’s criminal record, he faces from five to 99 years in prison or up to life on the enhanced charges.

Prosecutors Gabrielle Massey and Hilary LaBorde and defense attorneys Alan Bennett and Jessi Freud will give jury summations in the punishment phase when the trial resumes Thursday morning.

Massey presented evidence of Thornton’s criminal past, which includes two felony convictions for distribution of cocaine and one for distribution of marijuana, four misdemeanor convictions for assault-family violence, a misdemeanor conviction for interfering with a 911 call and one for criminal trespass.

The family violence convictions and the emergency call interference count all involve the same woman and include one incident in which he hit her with a chair.

Thornton, who did not testify, grew agitated Wednesday during LaBorde’s rigorous cross-examination of some of his family members, yelling that he did not rape the girl, now a 17-year-old high school senior.

The girl testified Wednesday that Thornton raped her in November 2015. However, according to testimony, her mother forced her to write a letter to the District Attorney’s office recanting the allegations, which forced prosecutors to close the case without pursuing the charges.

The girl, who aspires to be a neonatal nurse, said her mother told her she was going to visit a friend in jail and made her come with her.

When they got there, they were actually there to pick up Thornton, who was being released after her recantation.

A few months later, she was alone again with Thornton at his residence and he raped her again, she said. The girl said her estranged relationship with her mother has forced her to live with her older brother and his wife.

In defense punishment testimony, Thornton’s brother, Darrell Thornton, testified that he is not sure how many children his brother has but he thinks he has 11 children and 22 grandchildren.

While he and his brother were raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by the same parents, he said he became a police officer and an FBI agent while his brother took another, darker path. That led them not to see each other for many years, he said.

“My profession and his profession were different,” he said. “I was in law enforcement, and he was on the other side.”

“Can you think of anything more despicable than raping a young girl?” LaBorde asked.

“No, I cannot,” Darrell Thornton said reluctantly.

“Do you think someone who does that sort of thing deserves to be punished?” she asked.

“Yes, I do,” he said.

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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