A Smith County jury in the 114th District Court, on Wednesday, took 2 1/2 hours to convict a man of assault/family violence for hitting his girlfriend in the face and causing her nose and mouth to bleed in May.
Jessie Lee Burks, 38, who is charged with assault/family violence, faces up to life in prison because of his conviction of the third-degree felony. The charge is enhanced because Burks was convicted of the same charge in 2007 in Dallas County. The punishment phase of the trial is set for May 3, attorneys said.
The woman’s daughter, who was 9 years old at the time, ran for help on the night of May 13 at the apartment complex where she lived with her mother and Burks and asked for help from a neighbor who called police. The child had awakened to find her mother and Burks arguing and saw that her mother had a bloody nose.
The child’s mother, who is not being named because she is an alleged victim of domestic violence, testified that Burks came home on that evening drunk and accused her of cheating on him.
As Burks lay on the ground, she kicked him twice in the head, she said, because she was angry at him. He grabbed her foot and she fell, hitting her head on a shelf, and her nose began to bleed.
The 36-year-old victim testified Tuesday that she still loved and wanted to marry the man, who is on trial for punching her in the face and bloodying her nose. The victim testified that she receives disability payments for several mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, and Burks told her she didn’t need to take medication because “she was not crazy.”
In his closing statements to the jury, Smith County Assistant District Attorney Jacob Putnam talked about the victim’s claims of being the aggressor in her relationship with Burks.
“If you believe (the victim), she said she kicked Burks hard three times — but he had no injuries. She had no explanation for her cut lip and scratches,” Putnam said.
Ratekin said to jury that the reason that the child said Burks hit her mother was because Detective Brock encouraged her to do so.
“Detective Brock lied to that 10-year-old girl and convinced her to say it. The girl is the real victim — being lied to by police,” Ratekin said. He criticized the Smith County District Attorney’s Office, saying it threatened to put the victim in jail unless she agreed to testify against Burks.
Ratekin also told the jury about how Detective Brock questioned the victim about the incident knowing she was still under the effects of the anesthesia from surgery on her nose to stop her recurrent nose bleeds.
“They kept hammering at it,” he said of the police.
In her rebuttal to the jury, prosecutor Whitney Tharpe said that even though the victim did not want to testify, that sometimes “you have to protect people from themselves.”