The trial of a Tyler man accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child began Monday morning in state District Judge Paul White’s courtroom.
Eric Michael McElroy was arrested Lufkin Police on Dec. 22, 2018, following an outcry by a then-7-year-old girl in April 2018.
Prosecutor Sandra Martin used her opening statement to explain her witnesses and asked the judge to find the defendant guilty. Lufkin attorney John Tatum is representing McElroy. He did not offer an opening statements.
The now 9-year-old victim testified Monday afternoon. Martin brought out several pieces of evidence to have the child confirm or deny during her testimony.
The victim was forensically interviewed twice at the Martin House Children’s advocacy Center in Longview in 2018 about the alleged assault. She did not make an outcry during her first forensics interview on April 12, 2018, although she had told another adult about the incident prior to the interview.
Sgt. Farris Ellis of the White Oak Police Department, who was called to the stand earlier Monday, testified the girl did not make an outcry during her initial interview.
Candice Salter, an employee of White Oak ISD and a reading interventionist, was the state’s first witness. At the time of the outcry, she also worked as the site coordinator for the White Oak Boys and Girls Club.
She testified the child attended the Boys and Girls Club at the time of the outcry. The parents of another child club told staff the victim told their child that she didn’t want to go see the defendant because he made her do favors for candy.
Salter then spoke with the victim and asked her about what she had told the other child. The victim did not want to talk, but eventually became fidgety and began to speak about her experience, Salter said.
“She had given a lot of details that she wouldn’t have known had it not happened to her personally,” Salter said.
The victim was granted a second interview after making an outcry to her mother over the weekend following the initial interview. That second interview was held April 17, 2018.
Tatum argued the video from that interview amounted to hearsay, and as such was inadmissible.
On April 23, 2018, Ellis picked up a statement from the victim’s mother regarding the incident, in which the victim described the assault.
Tatum asked Ellis if there was a chance the mother tainted the interview by questioning or coaching the victim.
Ellis said he did not believe that was the case because of the extent of detail the girl went into would not make sense if she was memorizing it or repeating what her mother said.
The victim confirmed the legitimacy of several screenshots taken from the video of her second interview, where she acted out the assault by role-playing. Martin submitted those for evidence. Tatum objected on grounds of hearsay; White overruled his objection and accepted the screenshots.
During the second interview, the child referenced an apartment complex that did not match the description of any complexes in White Oak, Ellis said. He worked with other law enforcement agencies and records of McElroy’s former residences to locate an apartment complex in Lufkin.
The victim confirmed a printout of the defendant’s apartment layout, where she said the assault occurred. She showed which room the defendant took her to while another child remained in the living room watching TV. She said the other child stopped the assault because they began knocking on the door to the other room and crying.
Ellis testified another child was present during the alleged assault but did not make any outcry.
The victim said multiple times during her testimony that the assault did not hurt her. However, Martin said the victim said it hurt during the forensic interview. She also confided in two other people about being hurt. Those two individuals provided sworn statements to authorities.
Tatum attempted to confirm more definitive details regarding the assault, but the victim said she didn’t remember enough of those details to confirm or deny them.
Following her second interview, the victim attended counseling sessions with Tracey Moore, a licensed counselor with Martin House who specializes in children and traumatic events.
Moore was the final state’s witness, and she went over some of the treatment that the victim underwent while in Moore’s care. She also said that she believed the child because her story did not change during the 20 weeks of treatment she received.
The trial reconvenes at 10 a.m. today.