Already convicted of sexually assaulting a disabled woman in Edna, Texas, Billy Joe Harris -- the man dubbed "the Twilight Rapist' came face to face again Tuesday with the elderly victims he's accused sexually assaulting in Leon County in 2009.
Harris is now being tried on charges of burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony.
In 2010 Harris was arrested after sexually assault a disabled women in Edna, Texas. Authorities were alerted during the crime after the woman enabled her emergency-alert bracelet. He fled the scene, but was arrested a short time later. At the time of his arrest, Harris worked as a non-commissioned employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Rosharon. Since Harris didn't have a criminal record, investigators say it was a challenge tracking down the man responsible for these crimes.
During the first trial in Edna in 2010, the jury gave Harris the highest punishment possible for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a disabled person. Judge Skipper Koetter with the Texas State District sentenced Harris to life in prison and fined him $10,000. While the Jackson County piece of the "Twilight Rapist" puzzle is finished, it's just beginning for several other victims in Leon County.
Tuesday morning -- Walker County Courthouse
Sitting next to his defense attorney Alan Cohen, while surrounded by security -- an emotionless Billy Joe Harris -- sat and stared Tuesday morning as each victim recalled the violent and painful memories of the day he sexually assaulted them inside their own home.
Investigators say each home burglary and sexual assault was carefully planned. They say often times he would learn the victims' routine, their schedules and at times, cut wiring to landlines and turn off electricity.
The women were asked to provide background information to the courtroom, including what clubs and organizations they belonged to in junior high and high school, how many children they had, and additionally, explain daily routines they may have had up until the day they met Billy Joe Harris in 2009.
The first victim who testified Monday was an 80-year-old woman from Marquez, Texas. She was a cheerleader and also voted "Most Popular" in high school. In 1948 she got married and over the years, she and her husband had three boys; their children later married and had children of their own. She became a widow in 2006 -- she never remarried -- and has since lived alone. Since her husbands death, she told the courtroom about her daily routine of waking up before the sun rises every morning.
The second victim, an 82-year-old Yoakum, Texas resident testified Tuesday morning. The courtroom learned she was valedictorian of her high school class; she was voted most intelligent and married the man she claims won her heart, "with his blonde curly locks," she said. They were married for more than 35 years. The alleged victim became a widow in 1984. She's very involved in her community and walked to church almost every morning -- a church she's attended for 64 years.
How the Crimes Occurred
It is unclear how Harris, a Missouri City resident at the time, would pick each victim or how he kept what appears to be a "double life" a secret from his wife and his young step-son.
The courtroom also learned that both victims have what is called a "double cylinder deadbolt" on the doors they use as their main entry to their house. This type of deadbolt requires a key to lock and unlock from both the inside and outside of the door. Both women admit they always kept a key inserted in that deadbolt [on the inside of the home] should they ever need to rush out from the inside of their home during an emergency. Prosecutors allege these women also had premeditated crimes take place by Harris before as he would come back a second time.
Yoakum, Texas February 27, 2009
The victim's home in Yoakum, Texas is two hours away (180 miles) from Harris' home in Missouri City, Texas
Some time in February of 2009, a few weeks prior to the sexual assault, the victim says she was getting ready for church when the lights in her home suddenly went out. This happened on two separate days. The power company came out and repaired the problem, but found that someone intentionally tripped her breaker, causing the loss of electricity. Police were then called to the scene where they discovered forced entry marks in the panel of her front door. Investigators said the marks were consistent with that of someone trying to pry the door open with a jimmy.
Several weeks later, on February 27, just after 5:30 a.m., the victim would walk out of her front door to make her morning walk to church. When she opened the door, she found a man crouched down trying to pick the lock of her front door. Two years later investigators say that man was Harris. The alleged victim says Harris jumped up and pushed her back inside the home, tied her hands and forced her into her bedroom where the sexual assault allegedly occurred.
July 2, 2009 & July 20, 2009
The victim's home in Marquez, Texas is three hours away (roughly 178 miles) from Harris' home in Missouri City, Texas
Harris is accused of breaking into the 80-year-old Marquez victim's home the first time on July 3, 2009. Detectives say he stole two deer-mounts, deer that were both shot by the victim's husband.
Also taken, hundreds of dollars in cash, a tower computer and an address book.
Prosecutors say he would come back a second time on July 20, 2009 where h's accused of beating her, and trying to sexually assault her.
Some 166 dollars were also taken.
Detectives say her phone lines were cut twice and the phone jacks were removed
While describing every detail of the terrifying assault, the victim said Harris slapped her across the face after she said she didn't have any money. She also said Harris, claimed his name was "Bobby Dawn;" and he was 70-years-old and lived in the home behind her.
According to the Victoria Advocate in 2010, "Billy was so traumatized by Tommy (his brother) that he slept, lived and moved into the attic of a farmhouse," Cohen, who described Harris' crimes as violent, sadistic and disgusting, told jurors. "It was a fortress of isolation."
Cohen said two other personalities were identified by the two doctors who examined Harris - David the dog, who committed the crime, and Bobby, the mastermind. "Bobby" is the same name Harris gave to the 80-year-old Marquez victim during the sexual assault.
Officially named associative disorder syndrome, Cohen contended Harris' condition was brought about by watching and participating in pornography, including taking part in bestiality with a dog, as a teenager, as well as a fear of his older brother.
January 8, 2011 -- Day of Arrest
After Harris was arrested in Edge, investigators found the Marquez victim's address book inside the trunk of Harris' vehicle. A search warrant was then issued for Harris' home in Missouri City.
During many of the home invasions, Harris would steal computers, clocks, deer-mounts, and other personal belongings from each victim. On Tuesday the courtroom heard testimony that Harris would take these stolen items and display them inside his home where his wife and young step-son lived. A Texas Ranger out of Galveston testified Tuesday afternoon and said he said he went to Harris' home and spoke with Harris' wife shortly after the arrest.
"When I walked into Harris' home all I could hear was the sound of clocks ticking; they were ticking and chiming even in neighboring rooms. He had crystal clocks hanging on the walls in the living room, a laptop computer was sitting on the kitchen table and in the garage he had two deer-mounts. I asked his wife if Billy had shot the deer himself and she claimed Harris had the items before they married the year before," the Ranger said. "His wife seemed shocked to hear that her husband was being accused of the crimes I informed her about. Her son was upstairs playing video games when I came over. I asked her if I could take the items to Houston to be examined as evidence and she said it was fine."
Those items were confiscated and taken to the Texas Department of Public Safety office in Houston as evidence. The deer-mounts located inside Harris' garage were allegedly stolen from the 80-year-old Marquez victim's home in 2009.
Reaction inside Walker County Court Tuesday
It took nearly two years for many of the victims to find out who the man was that is accused of forever changing their lives.
"Not knowing who the man was that did this to my mom made our lives a living hell," said a family member of the Leon County victim. "I can't express how drastic this crime changed her life. She doesn't drive anymore or go out after dark, and she can't attend the kiddos baseball games' anymore."
"I told the jury in Edna that I wasn't going to let this ruin my life," said the Yoakum victim during testimony. "With the support from my family and friends, I just gritted my teeth and installed a security system, put up a fence and now I don't walk to church anymore, the church that's just a block away from my home."
The trial was moved to Huntsville after the defense requested a change of venue because it was believed that a fair or impartial jury might not be available in Leon County. The motion was granted, but the defense has elected to waive the right to a trial by jury and have District Judge Ken Keeling decide Harris’ fate. Harris has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
The trial will resume on Wednesday. Harris is set to testify sometime before next Wednesday. News 3's Nicole Morten will continue bringing the latest from the Twilight Rapist Trial.
(Source: Texas DPS)
January 21, 2009: Home invasion, rape in Yoakum
February 27, 2009: Home invasion, rape in Yoakum *DNA
July 3, 2009: Home burglary in Marquez (evidence recovered)
July 20, 2009: Home invasion, rape Marquez *DNA
August 14, 2009: Home invasion, rape Zabcikville (evidence recovered)
August 2009: Home burglary in Falls County
September 5, 2009: Home invasion and assault Marquez
September 11, 2009: Home invasion, assault Bell County *DNA
October 10, 2009: Home invasion, rape Falls County *DNA
October 24, 2009: Home invasion, assault, Centerville
November 9, 2009: Home invasion, assault Yoakum *DNA
November 24, 2009: Attempted home burglary Yoakum
November 24, 2009: Home invasion, fondling, Luling
December 24, 2009: Home burglary in Moody (evidence recovered)
March 1, 2010: Home invasion, assault, Moody
December 4, 2010: Home burglary in Edna (evidence recovered)
January 8, 2011: Attempted burglary Yoakum
January 8, 2011: Home invasion, rape Edna *DNA (arrest)
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