Heath Shires admitted to drinking with friends on the night and early morning hours of July 31 and Aug. 1, 2013, at a friend’s house in Paradise.
But on the witness stand last week, Shires denied sexually assaulting an underage female family member who took him home that evening.
On Friday, a Wise County jury cleared him of the two felony counts he was facing, finding him not guilty of prohibited sexual conduct with ancestor/descendant and indecency with a child by sexual contact.
The trial began last Tuesday in 271st District Court in Decatur with Shires entering a not guilty plea to the charges.
Over the course of the four-day trial, more than a dozen witnesses testified about both the alleged victim and Shires, who were the only two people at Shire’s fifth-wheel mobile home near Boyd when the alleged crime took place.
The alleged victim testified over the course of Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday afternoon. She said after driving Shires home from his friend’s house and arriving at the trailer, Shires came into her room and exposed his genitals before climbing on top of her.
She testified that she tried to push him away, and he eventually passed out on top of her.
On Aug. 3, the alleged victim told her mother about the incident, and she made a statement to investigators. Shires’ attorney, Richard Gladden, pointed out that in the original police report, the alleged victim said Shires did not penetrate her.
The allegation that she had been sexually assaulted came a little more than a year later, in September of 2014. She testified that she recalled more details of the incident through a series of flashbacks and, after speaking with a counselor, decided to speak to investigators once again.
The alleged victim’s mother, Cheyenne Golaz, testified that when she picked up her daughter on the afternoon of Aug. 1, 2013, her daughter was upset and say ing “she didn’t want to live anymore.”
The alleged victim saw a doctor that day who diagnosed her with depression. Four days later, after speaking to investigators about the incident, she went back to the doctor who added a diagnosis of anxiety. She was given prescription medicine for depression and anxiety.
Golaz testified that three days later, her daughter attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on the prescribed medication and had to be hospitalized.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Berry asked the alleged victim what caused her to try to end her life.
“I felt nobody would believe me about what (Shires) did to me,” she said.
Following the suicide attempt, the alleged victim spent more than a week receiving treatment at the University Behavioral Health psychiatric hospital in Denton.
In September of 2013, the alleged victim began seeing counselor Carolyn McComis who diagnosed her with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). McComis testified that the alleged victim spoke about the alleged assault and continued to show suicidal thoughts, so the alleged victim was once again admitted to UBH.
Gladden questioned the alleged victim about why it took her a year to share details about a sexual assault when she denied in her initial statement that Shires had sexual intercourse with her. He also asked about two other sexual crime allegations the alleged victim had previously made about two other people, neither of which had resulted in charges being filed.
Gladden called one of the men who the alleged victim had accused of previously assaulting her, and he testified that he did not do what he was accused of doing. He said the allegation had caused a lot of heartache for him and his family.
While testifying, Shires admitted that he was an alcoholic, but he denied he had anger problems when he was intoxicated.
Berry showed a video of Shires being interviewed by a Wise County Sheriff’s investigator about a week after the alleged incident. Shires admitted on the video there were certain details he did not remember about the evening, and Berry asked him about that during his in-court testimony.
“I don’t believe I ever would have or could have done it,” Shires said about the sexual assault allegations.
In his closing argument, Gladden said the alleged victim had too many inconsistencies in her various reports to investigators.
“If you have one witness to a crime, that needs to be a person of highest credibility,” Gladden said. ” … You can’t find (Shire’s) guilty based on all these inconsistencies.”
Berry said in his closing argument that the system had failed the alleged victim in the past, and the jury couldn’t “allow the ball to drop again.”
“Two people were there that night: one who can’t remember what happened and one who will never forget,” he said.
It took the jury about three-and-a-half hours to return a not guilty verdict on both counts.
Although Shires was cleared of the sex crimes, he is still facing an unrelated felony charge of driving while intoxicated third or more. That case is pending in 271st District Court.