Jason Wayne Belcher, 35, of Mineola was found guilty by a jury of seven men and five women.
On Thursday, during the punishment phase the same jury heard evidence that the defendant had previously been convicted of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child in Dallas County in 1999 and burglary of a habitation in Wood County in early 2000. He was on probation from the 1999 conviction when he committed the burglary.
In addition, the jury heard evidence from another child that in February of this year, she outcried to a teacher at a local school district that this defendant had been raping her for several years.
The jury also heard evidence surrounding that investigation, which is ongoing in Wood County.
Belcher, who had pleaded “not guilty,” waived jury sentencing and on Thursday presiding Judge Lauren Parish sentenced him to life in prison. He will not be eligible for parole for at least 30 years.
The sexual abuse to the child occurred at a home in Upshur County while the child’s mother was at work. The crime occurred in January, 2012.
“We are very thankful to the Upshur County jury who heard the evidence presented in this case,” said Criminal District Attorney Billy Byrd.
Assistant District Attorney Natalie Miller and Byrd represented the state at trial. Former Investigator Chris McCauley of the Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.
The defendant was represented by Gilmer attorney Brandon Winn.
“We express our appreciation to Wood County District Attorney Jim Wheeler and his assistance on gathering witnesses, including Investigator Kyle Henson of the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, as well as his Crime Victim Coordinator Robin Sherwood, who assisted during the trial,” Byrd said.
“This was a team effort all the way around, and once again, Our Upshur County Jury proved this is not the county in which to commit criminal offenses.”