Jurors on Wednesday sentenced a man who sexually assaulted a 14-month-old child to 99 years in prison.
A 212th State District Court jury sentenced Jason Michael Grant, 36, to the maximum penalty possible just hours after convicting him of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Jurors had to watch a 10-second video recording of the 2012 assault, made with Grant’s cellphone, during the trial, in which testimony started Tuesday.
A former friend of Grant’s testified that he had taken the phone from the home Grant shared with girlfriend Alisha Marie Drake. Later, while trying to download music onto the phone, he inadvertently found the video of Grant attacking the child, he said. He testified that he first wanted to kill Grant, but when the man could not find Grant, he instead took the phone to the police.
After the guilty verdict, attorneys Lindsay Lopez and Bill Leathers asked jurors not to throw away Grant’s life for what was, as disturbing as it might have been, a “one-time incident.”
However, Assistant District Attorneys Adam Poole and Charlotte Kim that Grant deserved exactly as much mercy as he showed his young victim — none. In closing arguments, Poole asked jurors for a life sentence.
Because the victim was younger than 6 years old, Grant is ineligible for parole.
Drake, who turned 37 on Sunday, had faced a charge of sexual performance by a child, accused of recording a child being sexually abused. However, prosecutors after Grant’s trial concluded said they were dismissing her charge because the phone evidence might not be admissible against her. Grant had given her the phone, after which the former friend took it.
A jury in August 2013 convicted Drake, but the state’s 14th Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and remanded it back to the 212th State District Court for retrial.
Then-Judge Susan Criss held a juror in contempt after he told the court he would not be able to view images of child-sex abuse because doing so would violate his faith as a member of the Jehovah’s Witness denomination.
The appellate court ruled that the juror’s contempt arrest could have discouraged other potential jurors from disclosing biases, increasing the chances that Drake’s jury was not impartial, as state law required.
Drake’s retrial had been scheduled for April.
Grant’s trial had been on hold since February 2015, when he was found incompetent to stand trial and temporarily committed to a mental hospital.
However, after an evaluation in October led to Grant being found competent, the court scheduled his trial for January.
Citing his lengthy prison term, Poole also said his office would be dismissing Grant’s remaining charge of possession of child pornography, which carries a possible prison term of two to 20 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.