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UPDATE: Elkhart man receives 5 life sentences for kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault

ANDERSON CO., October 11, 2013—UPDATE: An Anderson County jury deliberated for less than 4 minutes before handing down 5 life-sentences in the case of 43 year-old Johhny Paul Sutherlin, of Elkhart, who was found guilty Thursday, of four counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault and one count of Aggravated Kidnapping.

The conviction is a result of a 2012 incident in which Sutherlin bound, blindfolded, gagged, and repeatedly raped a female victim.

“This was a vicious and unprovoked rape, there is no way around it,” said Anderson County Criminal District Attorney Doug Lowe. “He got what he deserved, and if he could have gotten more, it would have made me even happier.”

The sentences will be served concurrently, meaning Sutherlin will become eligible for parole on all of the sentences at the same time. Under Texas law, an inmate must serve 30 years of a life sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

District Attorney Lowe credited the hard work of Assistant District Attorneys Scott Holden and Elizabeth Watkins for their tireless assistance in the outcome of this case. He also gives special credit to former Palestine Police Detective Cathy Weber, who was responsible for pulling much of the evidence which was consequently used to convict Sutherlin.

District Attorney Low says with cases like these, it is not unusual to see the person serve at least half of their sentence. He then adds, “If he has to serve all of his life – that will make me happy too.”

“The victim was just devastated. She’ll never be the same, no matter how much counseling and therapy she gets,” said District Attorney Lowe. “This kind of sentence says to people we’re just not going to have this in our community.”

KYYK’s Gary Richards spoke to District Attorney Lowe about the case and the sentencing. Click below to hear more.


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