By Jeff Lehr
NEOSHO, Mo. —
A jury has convicted a Texas man of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl in Newton County about 12 years ago.
Andrew L. Lemasters, 48, of Freeport, Texas, was found guilty in Newton County Circuit Court in Neosho of first-degree statutory sodomy. Jurors returned the verdict Wednesday night at the end of a two-day trial.
A 20-year-old woman testified at the trial that Lemasters sexually abused her repeatedly over a 10-year period beginning in 2001, when she was 8.
Some of the alleged abuse took place in other states. The case was not brought against Lemasters until June of last year, when he was charged in Newton County with two counts of statutory sodomy. The charges pertained to two distinct types of alleged sexual contact that he had with the girl between April 2001 and November 2002 at locations in Newton County.
According to the victim, the first time she was abused, Lemasters called her into a room where he was naked, and told her that what he was going to do was “natural” and “needed to be done.”
Assistant Prosecutor Kathleen Miller decided at the conclusion of testimony to submit just one of the counts to the jury because of difficulties the victim had in describing in court what happened that long ago.
Another woman testified for the state, describing a long, abusive relationship that she had been in with the defendant. During that relationship, Lemasters had shot, stabbed and beaten the woman on multiple occasions, she told the court.
Lemasters took the witness stand and denied that any abuse ever took place. He told the court that he has suffered for years from a heart condition that precluded such sexual activity on his part.
A jury of nine women and three men deliberated 90 minutes before convicting the defendant.
Lemasters had waived before trial the option of being sentenced by the jury. That means Circuit Judge Tim Perigo will decide what his sentence will be on a date yet to be determined by the court. Lemasters faces from 10 to 30 years, or up to life, in prison for the conviction.
ANDREW LEMASTERS, convicted this week of sexually abusing a girl 12 years ago, has no previous criminal history of note despite testimony that he had been in abusive relationships.