By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
A Bell County jury sentenced a Temple man Tuesday to the maximum 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for sexually assaulting a patient at an area nursing home in 2006.
It took the jury one hour and 20 minutes to sentence 45-year-old Ernest Lee Glover following the guilty verdict reached Tuesday morning.
He will be eligible for parole in 30 years.
Glover served as a certified nursing assistant at the Bell County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Temple for more than a year before the allegations put him in handcuffs.
Before the facility was closed down for failing state inspections, it housed half geriatric patients and half pediatric patients.
Two patients testified during the sentencing phase of the trial Tuesday that Glover had also assaulted them. The victim in the case did not testify. Prosecutors argued that because of her limited mental capacity, she shouldn't be forced to testify.
Glover's attorney, Jeff Parker, said he believes that the very notion that his client was found guilty in a case where the victim didn't testify constitutes a violation of his rights.
"We knew the victim wasn't going to testify given her disability," Parker said. "He had signed a confession, he had admitted to what he had done to the police at the time."
The issue in the case was based on the level of sexual assault, and whether full sexual intercourse had occurred. Parker said he believed that the victim's testimony was needed to corroborate Glover's confession.
"She didn't take the stand," Parker said, "and our argument the entire time was the evidence was insufficient because she wasn't there to testify. Given the testimony from the other victims we heard in the sentencing phase, it certainly sounds like a fair and just sentence, 99 years for everything we heard.
"But my only concern is that it was a fair and just sentence for the wrong case. If his constitutional rights had been protected ... we'd have little to complain about."
Parker described it as "bending" the rules a bit to satisfy the needs of the case, something he believes could lead to a dangerous precedent.
"When someone is accused of a crime, a fundamental fact of the criminal justice system says that the accuser has to come into court and face questions and explain how they can make this accusation," Parker said.
"If we're going to start bending the rules because someone is disabled and it's inconvenient for them to come to court, where do we stop? Does the next person miss because it would be inconvenient because they've got to go to work, or this person can't come in to testify against this murder suspect because they've got a dental appointment?
"Where does it end? We couldn't ask her about this because she wasn't here to answer."
Parker added that while the prosecution did have the confession, under Texas law, additional evidence is needed to corroborate the confession to prove that someone did what they claim.
Parker said Glover will appeal on the basis of that argument.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568