July 28, 2008

Man pleads guilty for second time, gets reduced sentence

Appellate court reversed conviction in May, remanded new trial
The Lufkin Daily News
Monday, July 28, 2008

A convicted child molester, whose previous conviction and jury sentence were thrown out by an appellate court in May, has pleaded guilty a second time and received a reduced prison sentence.

Zachary Wayne Goshen of Lufkin is expected to serve an eight-year prison sentence in a plea agreement deal he reached last week with a state prosecutor. An Angelina County jury had sentenced Goshen to 15 years in prison and ordered him pay a $10,000 fine May 2007 after the 39-year-old man pleaded guilty to having sex with a runaway 13-year-old girl.

Goshen appealed the conviction and the 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler reversed the case in March. An opinion issued by the court stated Goshen's guilty plea violated his constitutional rights because he was not aware of the immigration consequences of his decision. When someone pleads guilty to a crime, the court is required to inform the defendant that if he is not a U.S. citizen the guilty plea could result in deportation or other immigration enforcements, according to the court's opinion issued in this case.

"Because the trial court did not inform Appellant of the immigration consequences of his plea, we are obligated by (case citation) to conclude that the trial court's failure to admonish Appellant is harmful error and to reverse the conviction and remand for new trial," the court stated.

Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington called the case unusual because Goshen entered a guilty plea the morning of his trial and then asked for a jury to assess his punishment. He said the trial judge did not instruct Goshen of his immigration rights, but added that Goshen is a U.S. citizen, so it wouldn't have affected his decision to plead guilty.

However, the record did not reflect Goshen's citizenship status, which the appellate court stated is grounds for a conviction reversal.

"We don't have many cases reversed, so it's a little unusual. But it can happen," Herrington said.

Goshen's attorney said the court's decision to throw out the previous conviction was not merely a technicality.

"You have to advise a client of his rights to make sure he understands the law," said attorney John Tunnel. "It's a check in the system."

Instead of taking the case to trial again, Goshen and his attorney reached a plea agreement with the state last week. He accepted an eight-year prison sentence with no fine for the charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Texas Uproar Added:

Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act of 1996
Made a Sex offense conviciton a deportable offence and the revocation of citizenship possible. Offenders are returned to their country of birth.

Violent Crimes Institute in Atlanta, reported about 240,000 illegal-immigrant sex offendersare living in the U.S., and estimated 93 sex offenders and 12 serial sex offenders cross the border illegally into the U.S. each day.

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