An Anderson County jury deliberated for almost three hours Wednesday afternoon before finding a former Palestine reserve police officer and church deacon guilty of sexually assaulting his granddaughter five years ago.

Jimmie Micheaux Sr., 62, of Palestine was found guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child shortly after 5:45 p.m. Wednesday after a 10-woman, two-man jury had deliberated his fate for approximately 2 1/2 hours at the Anderson County Courthouse.

The state had successfully alleged that Micheaux had sexual intercourse with his 7-year-old step-granddaughter sometime during the latter part of 2001 or early 2002.

The punishment phase of Micheaux’ trial was expected to begin at 9 a.m. today before 349th State District Judge Pam Foster Fletcher.

Micheaux, who has no prior criminal history and testified he is a deacon at his local church, now faces five-to-99 years or life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

On Wednesday, jurors were shown a videotape of an interview with the alleged victim conducted in December 2005 by a trained representative of the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties.

The indictment against Micheaux alleged the incident occurred on or about Dec. 2, 2001 — four years before the interview shown to the jury was conducted.

Brandi Gehrels of the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties testified Wednesday it was not uncommon for a young child to wait an extended period of time before making an outcry in such a situation.

During the December 2005 interview, the alleged victim told Gehrels that she was 7 when her grandfather entered the bedroom where she was sleeping and sexually assaulted her.

“He told me to be quiet and he pulled my pants down,” the girl said on the videotape.

The girl later indicated during the interview that her grandfather had sexual intercourse with her and kissed her on the lips.

“Did he say anything after that?” Gehrels asked the girl on the videotape.

“He told me to go back to sleep,” the girl responded.

A cousin sleeping in the same room did not awaken, she also told the interviewer on the videotape.

The girl told the interviewer this was the only time she was sexually assaulted by her grandfather.

On Wednesday, Micheaux testified in his own defense, indicating he confessed to the offense in March 2006 during an interview with Anderson County sheriff’s investigator Allen Douglas because he “was just so upset.” He carried a Holy Bible to the interview, according to his testimony.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening to me,” Micheaux testified.

Under direct examination by his attorney, Micheaux also indicated he did not understand his statements to authorities could eventually be used against him in a trial. He also testified that some of the personal information entered on one of his statements was not in his handwriting.

“Did you understand that you had a right to leave at any time?” local defense attorney Mark Cargill asked his client about interviews conducted prior to his arrest.

“No, I did not,” Micheaux answered.

Under cross examination by the state, Micheaux acknowledged he was a reserve officer for the Palestine Police Department during the early- to mid-1970s.

“As a (former) reserve police officer, you had no clue what your rights were?” Anderson County assistant district attorney Scott Holden asked.

“When I went in, I couldn’t believe what was happening to me,” Micheaux answered. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

The assistant district attorney also asked the defendant why his granddaughter would fabricate such a story.

“That’s something I don’t know,” Micheaux testified. “I really don’t. That’s beyond me.”

Micheaux testified he was employed by the Palestine Independent School District as a custodian for 35 years before his recent retirement.

The defendant also told the jury he had no criminal record prior to his arrest for aggravated sexual assault of a child.

“I’ve never been in trouble in 62 years,” Micheaux testified. “Not even a traffic ticket.”

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Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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