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Twilight Rapist headed back to court

Sonny Long

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

Billy Joe Harris

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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