Canyon Lake man gets life sentence for child molestation | Community Alert
Despite a labor shortage, District Attorney Jennifer Tharp and the Comal County court system continued to solve hundreds of criminal cases that began before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the 10-year sentence recently handed down to a former Comal ISD administrator after he was convicted of theft by an official, a Comal County jury sentenced Troy Allen Dennis, 57, of Canyon Lake to life in prison after convicting him of a single charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 6 in the 466th District Court of Judge Stephanie Bascon.
The charge was one of six contained in two indictments against Dennis that were returned by a Comal County grand jury on Jan. 3, 2018. One indictment charged him with three counts of assault serious sexual assault on a child under the age of 6 between 2014 and 2016.
The other charged Dennis with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 and one count of indecency-sexual contact involving a child under 17, all three stemming from incidents that occurred would be produced between 1998 and 2000.
Tharp said both victims, family members who were babysat by Dennis and his wife, testified during the two-day trial. The girl was 5 years old when she was abused by Dennis “on or about February 9, 2016”, according to the indictment.
Tharp said she did not immediately tell her parents about the abuse, but later reported it to another family member, who then notified authorities. The other woman, now an adult, said Dennis sexually assaulted her when she was between 5 and 12 years old, Tharp said.
“She said Dennis always told her that if she ever told anyone she would be in a lot of trouble,” Tharp said. “She said she had to speak up when she found out Dennis was abusing another child.”
Tharp said the jury believed Dennis was an opportunist who “took the opportunity to sexually abuse both girls to satisfy his own sick desires,” Assistant District Attorney Daniel Floyd said in closing argument. They only deliberated for 15 minutes before handing down the life sentence.
Dennis, who had been out on $230,000 bail since March 2018, was immediately handcuffed and taken to the Comal County Jail.
Tharp thanked Floyd and ADA Lauren Cole for pursuing the case on behalf of the state, as well as the Comal County Sheriff’s Office detachment. Dany Dufur; Susan White and Stacy Dufur with Children’s Advocacy Center; and Janie Mott, Donna Dishman and Dana Leopold for comforting victims and their families during the court process.
“Furthermore, thank you to the second victim who bravely came forward to report the abuse and bravely testified at trial, helping to ensure that Dennis never has the opportunity to abuse another child again.” , Tharp said.
In June and July, Tharp said his office saw 597 cases settled in district and county courts. Included were 181 felony cases that were settled by pleas and jury verdicts that led to jail sentences handed down in district courts.
Tharp thanked his group of interns who helped with cases over the summer: Justin Whitley, Connor Mack, Cody Kent, Ali De Leon, Maggie Ford and Sydney Grimes. She also thanked juries, judges and staffers Cole, Floyd, Sammy McCrary, Jessica Frazier and Jacqueline Doyer for their work in cases that included:
• Michael Rodriguez, 39, of Spring Branch, previously convicted of aggravated robbery by a Comal County jury, elected to ask the court to assess his sentence. On June 1, Judge Bascon sentenced Rodriguez to 35 years in prison. “During the trial, the jury received evidence that Rodriguez stabbed the elderly victim four times with a sword,” Tharp said.
• Laura Turner, 35, of Live Oak, pleaded guilty to injuring a child and was sentenced to seven years in prison by Judge Bascon. “Turner supplied a child under the age of 14 with alcohol and drugs to the point that the child was seriously ill,” Tharp said, adding that instead of taking the child to hospital or to contact his family, he was left outside in the cold. “The child had to be rushed to hospital, fell into a coma and is still traumatised,” she added.
• Patrick Tarkington, 48, of New Braunfels, who pleaded guilty to continuing breach of a protective order and was sentenced by visiting judge Dan Mills to eight years in prison. Tarkington’s offense level was raised to a second-degree felony due to a previous conviction for home burglary in Guadalupe County.
• Bryan Riepl, 35, of Katy, was convicted of drunk driving with two or more prior convictions for the same type of offence. His sentence was increased due to a prior stint in jail for a Harris County child sexual assault and more than 100 locking device violations mandated by previous convictions, Bascon sentenced Riepl to 20 years in prison. .
• Mark Rodriguez, 49, of New Braunfels, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, penalty group 1, between 4 and 200 grams (methamphetamine). Rodriguez’s sentence was increased due to previous sexual assault convictions and his inability to register as a sex offender. Judge Bascon sentenced him to 30 years in prison.
• Michael Chaney, 39, of Midland, who pleaded guilty to forgery and possession of a controlled substance, penalty group 1, less than one gram, was sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Jack Robison.
• Theresa Lawless, 47, of Canyon Lake, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, penalty group 1, between 4 and 200 grams. Tharp said that due to her long criminal history, the charge was strengthened as a repeat offender and Judge Bruce Boyer sentenced her to 24 years in prison.
• Thomas Pfeiffer, 37, of Spring Branch, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault of a public servant and was sentenced to eight years in prison by Judge Bascon.
• Carlos Parra, 27, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, penalty group 1, between 1 and 4 grams (methamphetamine) and was sentenced to 4 years in prison by Judge Dib Waldrip.
• John Crocker, 35, of New Braunfels, pleaded guilty to possession of a Group 1 controlled substance, less than 1 gram, and escaping arrest or detention with a vehicle. His sentence was also increased due to a criminal history that included arson of a vehicle, and Judge Robison sentenced Crocker to 20 years in prison.