Rousch sentenced to life for child sex assaults

A Llano County man convicted on two charges of crimes against children will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A jury in Llano convicted 69-year-old Billy Rousch of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Each charge carried a possible sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison.

It took the jury approximately an hour to reach the decision that Roush should serve life in prison for each of two offenses charged in the Llano indictment.

Judge Evan Stubbs then sentenced Roush to two life sentences which were then “stacked” sentences so they must be served consecutively, plus Rousch was assessed two $10,000 fines.

The minimum time before he could be eligible for parole would be in the year 2077, 59 years from now, when Rousch would be 128.

Assistant District Attorney Stacy Burke and District Attorney Sonny McAfee prosecuted the case. Roush was represented by Austin Shell and Michael Williams, of the Shell and Shell law firm.

Roush was convicted of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl somewhere on a highway in west Texas.

Because the exact county of the offense could not readily be determined, the “venue” or location of prosecution is proper in the county of residence of the defendant. Therefore, Roush was prosecuted in Llano County where he lived at the time of the offense.

Llano County Deputies, with assistance from the Sunrise Beach Chief of Police, Laurie Brock, and District Attorney Investigator, Jack Schumacher, conducted the investigation. In the course of the investigation, another victim of Roush was located in Madison County, who told District Attorney Chief Investigator Schumacher of offenses stemming back to approximately 1990, when that victim would have been four to five years old. That information was then forwarded to Madison County authorities where additional charges are now pending there.

Trials in Texas are “bifurcated,” or in two parts; the guilt-innocence phase of trial, and then upon a guilty verdict, there is a punishment phase. During the guilt phase of trial, the victim in the Llano case told the jury of the abuse that was perpetrated on her by the defendant.

Additionally, the law allows for other victims to testify in that portion of the trial when 30 days’ notice is provided to the defendant. Therefore, the Madison victim also testified about the abuse she suffered for approximately a decade at the hands of Roush.

As Burke and McAfee were preparing for trial, additional victims of Roush were discovered within the 30 days prior to trial.

Therefore, although they were excluded at the guilt phase, those victims were able to testify in the second phase of trial to assist the jury in determining the proper punishment. In total, five victims told of the sexual abuse Roush inflicted on them as children during a period of time that spanned almost four decades. Most of the victims had never fully revealed the details of the abuse until contacted during trial preparation for the Llano case.

ADA Burke requested the court stack the sentences so the sentences would be served consecutively, rather than at the same time. The defense argued that due to the age of the defendant and status of his health that sentences should not be stacked. Judge Stubbs granted the state’s motion to stack and admonished the defendant as he pronounced sentence.

The judge further added, “Mr. Roush, the evidence in this case was very strong, and for a person to not have your sentence cumulated would be for a person who has done something to show remorse and to show some mercy on your victims, and from you I have not seen that. You forced all of these various young women to have to come up and go through it again. You’ve effectively revictimized them in my opinion. And you know what you did. And you had the opportunity to spare them the pain and suffering of having to come in a courtroom full of people that they don’t know and go through those things that they shouldn’t have to go through. And so I don’t get a joy out of sentencing you, but you’ve done nothing to deserve the mercy of the Court.”

ADA Burke said she was pleased with the verdict of the jury.

“The abuse to the child in the initial investigation was horrible,” Burke said. “But as we uncovered more and more layers of abuse dating back to at least 38 years, it became very clear that Roush has been a serial child predator for a very, very long time with extremely severe consequences to his victims and their families. He should never be out of prison and in a position where he could victimize other children, and this verdict will accomplish that.”

District Attorney McAfee thanked the jury, and said he was pleased the judge stacked the sentences. “These men and women on the jury appeared to be greatly affected by the facts they learned about this case, but the jury did an admirable job of paying close attention and then deliberating their decision carefully. We appreciate their time, effort, and decisions.”

McAfee also discussed ADA Burke’s closing argument in which she asked the jury to send a message that Llano citizens would not tolerate predators like Roush in this community. McAfee said, “The jurors sent that strong message. And by stacking the sentences, I believe that Judge Stubbs expressed a very strong stand against child abuse.”

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