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A 44-year-old Aledo man with a prior conviction for indecency with a child was sentenced to life in prison for molesting a 2-year-old girl in a trial that ended Tuesday morning, Feb. 16, in Weatherford.
A Parker County jury found Mark Gregory Owens guilty of the Halloween 2008 aggravated sexual assault of a child and possession of child pornography.
Jurors assessed the maximum punishment of 20 years in prison for the pornography case and confirmed that Owens was previously convicted of a sex offense, which resulted in Visiting Judge David Cleveland assessing the life sentence mandated by law.
“This case was a first of its kind for our office,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Nikki Morton. “Effective Sept. 1, 2007, Jessica’s Law prohibits parole for aggravated sexual assault cases where the offender is convicted of molesting a child who is younger than 6-years-old. Since Texas law mandates a life sentence for repeat sex offenders, we were able to get a very serious sexual predator off of the streets for good.”
The case began when Owens showed his roommate a photo that he took of the girl, who had been left in his care, in her Cinderella Halloween costume. As the woman looked at the photos on Owens’ cell phone, she came across a picture of the naked 2-year-old girl.
The following day, Owens’ roommate looked at the phone again and discovered two more photos of the naked child posed in sexual contact with a naked man who had on a pair of pink women’s panties.
After the roommate contacted the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, officers went to Owens’ residence in Aledo and asked him to see his phone, according to trial testimony. Initially, Owens said that his cell phone was with his brother in Dallas.
When deputies told him that they were getting a search warrant, Owens took them in the house and gave them an old cell phone out of the junk drawer. As one deputy took that phone outside, Owens gestured for a houseguest to take the phone with the images on it and leave. When the guest took the phone outside, he turned it over to deputies, who then located the child pornography on it.
Owens was later interviewed and admitted to having taken the pictures. He said that he used methamphetamine throughout the Halloween weekend when he had the young girl and that when he is high on methamphetamine “it makes me feel like touching anyone. Anyone, anywhere.”
He also admitted to molesting another young girl in Tarrant County and to beating another child “pretty bad,” both of which he said he did while on methamphetamine.
After Owens was arrested in November 2008, he posted bond. After skipping a court date in June 2009, Owens hid from law enforcement for five months.
“In November 2009, Alvarado police found a car linked to the defendant and tried to stop it,” Morton said. “After he stopped briefly, Owens took off and led the officers on a high speed chase. After he crashed his car, he continued to flee on foot. When he was arrested, the defendant was again wearing pink panties and a bra. It was obvious to us that Owens fled because he knew that he was guilty and did not want to face a Parker County judge or jury.”