Yoakum sex abuse case ends in mistrial

Amber Aldaco By Amber Aldaco

July 14, 2017 at 11:06 p.m.
Updated July 14, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Shane Neil Cliffe

Shane Neil Cliffe   contributed photo for The Victoria Advocate

The trial of a 45-year-old Yoakum man accused of multiple sex crimes ended in a mistrial Friday.

Shane Neil Cliffe was on trial this week in Hallettsville for one crime, continuous sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony that carried a maximum sentence of life in prison with no parole.

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for nearly 10 hours Thursday and Friday morning but were unable to reach a final verdict. At 10:40 a.m., presiding Judge William D. Old III declared a mistrial.

"We are disappointed in the mistrial, but we also respect the jury's decision, and we respect the process," special prosecutor Jennifer Smith said. "We look forward to trying Mr. Cliffe again in December."

Smith would not say whether Cliffe would be tried again on the same charge but said all 65 counts in his indictment are pending and still active. Cliffe was indicted last year on the charges.

Defense attorney James Reeves, of San Antonio, declined to comment about the mistrial.

Jurors spent Tuesday and Wednesday listening to testimony, and Thursday, lawyers gave their closing arguments.

Prosecutors allege the abuse occurred between September 2007 and January 2008. The case involved one victim, a female, who was under the age of 14 at the time the abuse started.

Special prosecutors Heather Hines Wright and Smith, both of Guadalupe County, told jurors in their closing argument the victim was sexually abused several times a month for several months. The victim, Wright said, was abused from the time she was 11, and the abuse continued until she was 20.

Smith also told the jurors the victim could recall details about the place and circumstances of the abuse.

In his closing argument, Reeves told the jurors that although the victim said she reported the abuse to police, Child Protective Services and a junior high counselor, no such reports can be found. Reeves also emphasized how the victim, who described the abuse as "the same every time," could not recall the details of the last abusive episode.



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