By Jessica Priest •
Originally published February 13, 2014 at 12:36 p.m., updated February 14, 2014 at 12:29 a.m.
A former Victoria East High School athletic trainer was led away in handcuffs by deputies Thursday night after a jury sentenced him to 15 years in prison for having sex with a student.
After completing his prison sentence, Jesse Earl Holmes, 33, must then serve five years probation on the second charge of sexual assault.
Holmes pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of sexual assault of a child.
The jury deliberated for more than four hours, sending out five questions. One question was related to whether the sentences would be stacked.
Holmes, who was hired by the Victoria school district in 2010, had sex with a 15-year-old student at her house and in the parking lot of Patti Welder Middle School in the fall of 2012.
Before the jury deliberated, Holmes cried as he spoke about his troubled past, which included marital problems and being molested as a child.
He said it is hard to look at himself in the mirror now and apologized to the victim's family.
"I think I know what made me snap. It was the day I found those text messages on my wife's phone. I'm not telling you it was an excuse," he said, adding he had sought counseling after his arrest but could not afford it.
"I'm just asking you to be fair. I'm asking for you to see through all the show that's been put on," he said.
To perhaps illustrate his client's point, attorney Dexter Eaves slammed down several thick pieces of evidence during his closing statements.
It was shameful for the state to drag on the case, calling the victimized girls to the stand, when his client had already owned up to his actions, he said.
"What part of a dead horse do you want to beat?" Eaves asked.
Prison would not rehabilitate Holmes but harden him, he said.
Eaves asked the jury to assess probation.
Assistant District Attorney Johna Stallings asked for the maximum punishment for a second-degree felony -- 20 years in prison with a $10,000 fine.
Holmes sent sexually explicit text messages to several students. She described him as a "a shark in a sea of minnows."
A second former student of Holmes testified Thursday that she had sex with him, too, at her house one day before class.
The girl, who was 17 at the time, was in a yellow jail jumpsuit because officers had to pick her up when she did not comply with a subpoena.
She wore a somewhat stoic expression on her face when she told jurors Holmes initially gave her dating advice but then became possessive.
"It has hurt my confidence," the girl said of how they had sex.
She is the alleged victim in another pending case against Holmes in which he faces two counts of improper relationship between educator and student, also second-degree felonies.
"There's no winners and no losers in a case like this," Eaves said after the verdict was read.
He said the reason he brought up a possible lawsuit between VISD and the victim's family during Wednesday's testimony was that he wanted to alert the jury that there needs to be more than a written policy regarding how teachers interact with students after class.
Teachers need to be supervised, he said.
"The system they have right now (in which teachers may text message students) is fraught with danger," Eaves said.
Stallings applauded the family for making the outcry and the police and the school district for investigating and obtaining partial confessions from Holmes.
"It really resulted in a lot of great breaks for the case," she said.
Assistant District Attorney Teresa Reyes-Bonar assisted in the case.