ANGLETON — Judge Terri Holder has about a week to decide whether a former school officer convicted of sexually assaulting a child will get a new trial.
A Brazoria County jury found Terry Roy Tennard, 44, guilty of two counts of second-degree felony sexual assault of a child in late June. They sentenced him to 15 years for each charge, which Holder elected to stack, totaling 30 years. He will be eligible for parole after 15 years.
The jury acquitted him of two first-degree felony charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, stemming from when the victim — a student at Manvel Junior High School, where he Tennard stationed while employed by Alvin ISD Police — was 13. The charges he was convicted of stem from when she was 14.
Tennard is now represented by Houston attorney Stanley Schneider, who filed a motion June 25 for Tennard to get a new trial, partly for lack of legal knowledge by former defense attorney Maverick Ray, Schneider said.
Tennard again sat in the 149th District Courtroom for a motion hearing Thursday morning, now clad in an orange jumpsuit instead of the suit and tie he wore during the June trial, but still greeting family and friends in the gallery.
Ray could not attend the hearing because he was in another trial, Schneider said, but he did file an affidavit in preparation. Ray did not respond to requests for comment Thursday afternoon.
Ray did not hire experts for the case because Tennard could not afford them, which is not how that should’ve been handled, Schneider said.
In his affidavit, Ray said he was unfamiliar with the Ex Parte Briggs ruling, Schneider said. Ex Parte Briggs states clients who cannot afford experts should be considered indigent and use an option to provide the defendant expert testimony.
Prosecutor Kyle Jones said he doesn’t think the use of experts would have changed the jury’s verdict in this case, adding Briggs was a child death case where the jury would have found the defendant not guilty.
Ray did not apply during jury selection for probation to be presented as an option, which Schneider argued was lack of knowledge of the law, but Jones countered it could have been a trial strategy. Ray eventually applied for probation to be considered during the punishment phase, which the jury did.
Another allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel was Ray’s questioning of whether Tennard had ever been accused of something like the charges being tried. That allowed the prosecution to introduce evidence he had previously impregnated a 16-year-old girl and prejudiced the jury, the defense argued.
Jones disputed that claim because the jury still returned two acquittals, he said. Schneider said Ray’s question had no strategic basis and Ray should have requested a limiting instruction on how the jury could consider that evidence.
The credibility of Ray’s affidavit should be viewed in dim light because he is still advocating for a client who no longer retains him, Jones said, by claiming the court violated Tennard’s Garrity rights.
Garrity rights protect public employees from being compelled to incriminate themselves during investigatory interviews conducted by their employers, according to garrityrights.org.
That the prosecution had a document relating to Tennard’s termination from the school district and attempted to use it violated the court’s order and his rights under Garrity, Schneider said.
“That’s where the Garrity violation is and that’s where the court should have granted a mistrial at this point,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s anything on the record to even suggest this fell under the Garrity order,” Jones said.
Holder wants to review case law, but will let the attorneys know of her decision before Sept. 8, she said.