A hearing has been set for a first-degree felony child sex assault case that has been moving through the Bell County courts for more than 5 and a half years. The accuser, now an adult, was younger than 14 years in 2009 when police said that the sexual assault occurred.
Wilfred Warren Sheppard, 53, was indicted on Oct. 15, 2014, on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child that allegedly occurred at a Killeen home sometime before Dec. 31, 2009, according to court records.
Four years and seven months exist between the alleged assault in 2009 and Sheppard’s arrest on Aug. 21, 2014. The victim was a teenager in 2014 when she told a teacher she had been assaulted, according to the arrest affidavit and court documents.
The next special hearing has been set for May 15 in the 27th Judicial District Court.
“The case is still pending and active,” said Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Newell in an email on May 1. “We cannot comment any further on a pending case in our office.”
Court documents show that Sheppard is representing himself after four defense attorneys either filed motions to withdraw as counsel or were replaced.
Among the 25 motions that have been filed in the case since Dec. 1, 2014, all but one motion was by the defense. Sheppard or his attorneys have filed eight motions to dismiss the case, three motions to quash the indictment and several motions related to the discovery of state’s evidence and witnesses.
Multiple motions for continuance also have been filed in the case, including one by the state.
Sheppard filed several motions, including one in the Texas Court of Appeals in Austin, that allege a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s protection against double jeopardy after he said that a Bell County judge heard hearings on two unrelated cases against Sheppard simultaneously in 2016.
Sheppard was sentenced on Sept., 19, 2016, in the 27th Judicial District Court, to a year in jail on a state jail felony charge of criminal mischief, according to records from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
In court documents, Sheppard says that during that sentencing hearing, the alleged victim from the unrelated sexual assault case testified for the state.
“The fact that Judge John Gauntt assessed punishment in (the criminal mischief case) with consideration of unsubstantiated testimony proffered by (the victim in the aggravated sexual assault case) … serves as a presumption of guilt in (the sexual assault case),” reads Sheppard’s motion that was filed on April 20, 2018. “In essence, I have been convicted before trial of (sexual assault) based on unsubstantiated, unproven allegations.”
Sheppard claims that the judge’s judgment in the sexual assault case would be “tainted” because he heard testimony during the sentencing hearing on the unrelated criminal mischief case. Sheppard was arrested for criminal mischief after hitting the side of a person’s golf cart with a shovel.
During that hearing, the alleged victim, then 17 years old, described a sexual assault that she said occurred when she was 9 years old. She said that Sheppard, whom she describes as a longtime family friend, then offered her $1,000.
She said she later made an outcry to a high school teacher that led to Sheppard’s arrest.
“Review of my Constitutional challenge currently on appeal with this court is necessary to preserve my rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment prior to the conduct of a second trial by the trial court…” reads Sheppard’s motion to the Third Court of Criminal Appeals on April 23, 2019.
DPS records show one other prior criminal conviction in Texas. He was sentenced to 10 years of probation for a second-degree felony theft in 2004.