A League City man faces up to 20 years in prison after being found guilty Friday of reckless injury to a child causing serious bodily injury.
The verdict came late Friday afternoon in the third trial of Evan Nolan, 29, in the 2016 death of Whitney Williams, 6, his stepdaughter.
Juries had failed to convict or acquit Nolan in trials in 2017 and 2018. The jury in the most recent trial had the opportunity to convict him of murder, but unanimously convicted him of the lesser charge.
The jury also declined to add an enhancement to the charge, ruling it did not find beyond a reasonable doubt that Nolan used a weapon to injure Williams.
The same jury will sentence Nolan on Monday in the 56th District Court. He could receive between two and 20 years in prison, but could also be put on probation, prosecutors said.
Nolan, who had been out on bond before the trial, was taken into custody after the verdict was read.
Prosecutors declined to comment Friday afternoon, citing the pending sentencing phase of the trial.
Nolan’s attorney said he planned to wait until after a sentence is handed down before deciding whether to appeal the verdict.
“I think that it speaks a lot that they came with the lesser charge and that there was no deadly weapon finding,” attorney Adam Banks said. “To us, it is a bit of a win. We’re awaiting sentencing. He is probation-eligible now. That’s a big deal. Seeing what happens Monday, we’ll go forward and see if there’s an appeal or not.”
Nolan was accused of beating Williams to death while he was watching her and his 1-year-old daughter in 2016 at the family’s apartment.
On the evening of Aug. 17, 2016, a League City Police Department officer spotted a motorist driving recklessly and stopped the vehicle in the 1500 block of East Main Street.
Brithony Williams got out of the vehicle carrying her unconscious daughter, police said.
Emergency medical personnel attempted CPR on the girl before taking her to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center and later to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where she died the next day.
An autopsy revealed she had suffered multiple severe injuries before her death, including brain trauma, a lacerated liver and internal bleeding.
Williams initially told detectives a baby sitter had been watching her children, but she could not provide police with a phone number, according to police affidavits.
Williams told police the baby sitter had called her at work to tell her Whitney had suffered a seizure and hit her head, according to the affidavits.
Williams later changed her story and told police that Nolan had been watching the girl. Nolan was arrested Aug. 18, 2016.
In previous trials, Nolan’s attorneys had attempted to shift blame for Williams’ death to her mother, while prosecutors argued that Nolan was the only person who could have caused the injuries in the small window of time he was alone with the young girl.