In the small town of Cleveland, Texas, 19 men are accused if being a part of the sexual assault of a then-11-year-old girl. But a judge has pushed back the cases of six of them due to a delay in DNA testing.
Wednesday, six of the men appeared in state district court to receive status updates on their cases. Prosecutor Joe Warren asked for delays in the cases for another four to six weeks so DNA testing of evidence could be completed.
The six indicted individuals - Tyrone Ellis, Jr., 19; Devo Green, 20; Carlos Ligons, 22; Jamarcus Napper, 18; Walter Harrison, 26; and Cedrick Scott, 27 - entered their not guilty pleas during arraignment hearings.
Seven others who had previously pleaded not guilty - Timothy Ellis; Kelvin King, 21; Xavier King, 17; Eric McGowen, 19; Jared McPherson, 18; Marcus Porchia, 26; and Isaiah Ross, 21 - were also in court.
State District Judge Mark Morefield reportedly said, “I’m going to pressure the state to pressure the DPS lab to get whatever analysis as quickly as possible.”
The case made national headlines as details of the alleged assault became public. The suspects range in age from a middle school student to a 27-year-old. Two of the suspects are star athletes at the local high school, and other alleged attackers have criminal records.
Most of the suspects face charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Four, however, face charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child. One of the men, Marcus Porchia, 26, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting another girl. That case is not related.
Many residents in the town cried racial profiling, as all of the suspects are black. Some 9,000 residents even suggested that the girl was somewhat culpable in what happened because she wore makeup and dressed to appear older. These claims shocked people all across the country, especially when the girl’s parents were accused of not keeping a better eye on their daughter.
The now-12-year-old is the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. She is currently in foster care while her parents work with child welfare authorities. USAToday say the parents, who have health problems, have received threatening phone calls and have since moved out of Cleveland.