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Twilight Rapist headed back to court

By Sonny Long
March 30, 2012 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated March 29, 2012 at 10:30 p.m.

Billy Joe Harris

TWILIGHT RAPIST TIMELINE

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety Serial Rapist Task Force, Billy Joe Harris is connected to the following cases. A timeline of his arrest and legal proceedings is included.

Jan. 21, 2009 - Home invasion and sexual assault, YoakumFeb. 27, 2009 - Home Invasion and sexual assault, YoakumJuly 3, 2009 - Residential burglary, MarquezJuly 20, 2009 - Home invasion and sexual assault, MarquezAug. 14, 2009 - Home invasion and sexual assault, ZabcikvilleAugust 2009 - Residential burglary, Falls CountySept. 5, 2009 - Home invasion and physical assault, MarquezSept. 11, 2009 - Home invasion and physical assault, Bell CountyOct. 10, 2009 - Home invasion and sexual assault, Falls CountyOct. 24, 2009 - Home invasion and physical assault, CentervilleNov. 9, 2009 - Home invasion, physical assault, YoakumNov. 24, 2009 - Attempted residential burglary, YoakumNov. 24, 2009 - Home invasion, sexual fondling, LulingDec. 24, 2009 - Residential burglary, MoodyJanuary 2010 - Gov. Rick Perry requests formation of Serial Rapist Task ForceMarch 3, 2010 - Home invasion and physical assault, MoodyDec. 4, 2010 - Residential burglary, EdnaJan. 8, 2011 - Attempted burglary, YoakumJan. 8, 2011 - Home invasion and sexual assault, Edna; Harris arrested on sceneFeb. 1, 2011 - Harris indicted by a Jackson County grand jury.Sept. 21, 2011 - Harris found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a disabled person in Edna.Sept. 30, 2011 - Harris sentenced to life in prison.April 2, 2012 - Harris scheduled to stand trial for Leon County assault. Trial moved to Walker County.

Billy Joe Harris, dubbed the Twilight Rapist, returns to court April 2 in Huntsville.

In September 2011, Harris was convicted for the January 2011 sexual assault to a disabled woman in Edna and sentenced to life in prison by a Jackson County jury. He will have to serve at least 30 years before being eligible for parole.

Harris has been linked by DNA and other evidence to several similar crimes in South and Central Texas, including in Yoakum where the first attack is thought to have taken place in January 2009, according to reports from the Texas Department of Public Safety Serial Rapist Task Force.

DeWitt County District Attorney Michael Sheppard said he also plans to prosecute Harris for the attacks in Yoakum.

"That is still the plan unless we can work out a plea bargain that ensures he will be in the pen for the rest of his life," Sheppard said.

Harris rejected a plea bargain.

The trial in Huntsville, which is in Walker County, is for an assault in Leon County, one of three cases Harris is linked to there.

Those cases include home invasions and sexual assaults in Marquez on July 20 and Sept. 5, 2009 and in Centerville on Oct. 24, 2009.

A change of venue was granted because of the potential of prejudice within the jury pool, said Harris' defense attorney Alan Cohen, who said his client rejected a plea agreement with the state.

Cohen said he will again raise the insanity defense in defending Harris, who is in state prison in Navasota.

Harris' appeal in his Jackson County conviction is being handled by Victoria attorney Louis Martinez. A brief has not yet been filed in appellate court.

"This kind of appeal takes a lot of time," Martinez said. "There are a lot of points of law to consider."

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