A Parker County man with a previous conviction for sexually abusing his girlfriend’s young daughter was sentenced to life in prison Friday for sexually assaulting a young family member in 2001.
A 19th State District Court jury determined that Erlis Joseph Chaisson was convicted in 1993 for molesting a young girl, which, coupled with his conviction Thursday, led to an automatic life prison term for the 47-year-old home framer.
Jurors convicted Chaisson of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child by contact. Besides the life sentence, the jury recommended that Judge Ralph Strother sentence Chaisson to seven-year terms on both of the indecency counts.
The judge also ordered that the seven-year terms be served consecutively with the life sentence, meaning Chaisson will have to serve at least 42 years in prison before he can seek parole.
Chaisson, who did not testify during the five-day trial, also has convictions for burglary and drunken driving.
The victim in this case, now a 27-year-old state law enforcement officer in north central Texas, testified that Chaisson sexually abused her for four years beginning when she was 8 years old while her family lived in Louisiana. She said he also abused her after her family moved to a home near China Spring in 2001.
“In Louisiana, they may give you a slap on the wrist for child abuse, but the defendant made a mistake when he moved to McLennan County,” Assistant District Attorney Gabrielle Massey told jurors in closing statements. “He made a big mistake when he abused another child in this county.”
Prosecutor Andrew Erwin told the jury people like Chaisson are the reason the Legislature passed the “two strikes and you’re out” statute that provides for an automatic life prison term the second time someone is convicted of abusing a young child.
“A life prison term is the only just punishment,” Erwin said.
Stephen Gordon, who represents Chaisson with Christy Jack, told the jury Chaisson is a hard-working man who did his best to provide for his family.
“Can you consider mercy? Can you consider grace? He is going to prison no matter what you do,” Gordon said. “He’s going to be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.”
Chaisson challenged the authenticity of his Louisiana conviction, pleading “not true” to the enhancement because of the two-strike rule.
Prosecutors submitted the 1993 judgment from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and called a Parker County deputy to testify that Chaisson has been registering as a convicted sex offender in Weatherford since moving there.
Jurors heard a two-hour recording of a 2014 meeting between Chaisson and his victim. She testified that she told no one of the abuse until years later after she sought counseling for relationship difficulties and a questionnaire from the counselor’s office asked if she had ever been sexually abused.
Chaisson agreed to meet her in a park in Granbury, knowing that she was seeing a counselor and wanting to talk about the sexual abuse.
Chaisson was heard on the tape acknowledging the abuse, but he tried to mitigate it by blaming her for craving so much attention and saying that he stopped himself “before he did something really stupid.”