AG’s Office, Jefferson County DA Bob Wortham Obtain Conviction, 60-Year Prison Sentence in Sex Trafficking Case Involving Women and Underage Victims
AUSTIN, TX – As a result of a joint effort by his office and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that a jury found Johnny Ray Matlock guilty on charges of continuous trafficking of persons, a first-degree felony. Matlock waived his right to appeal and accepted a 60-year prison sentence, which is the equivalent of a life sentence in Texas.
Attorney General Paxton’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, led by Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Melton, was invited by District Attorney Wortham to partner with his office on Jefferson County’s first human trafficking case. Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Pipkin worked with Melton on the trial.
“This collaboration between my office and the district attorney’s office in Jefferson County is an outstanding example of how we’re fighting to ensure that justice is served upon those who commit the despicable crime of sex trafficking,” Attorney General Paxton said. “I want to thank the prosecutors and law enforcement agents for their efforts on this investigation to put away a despicable human trafficker.”
Last March, a grand jury indicted Matlock, of Silsbee, on charges he used social media and apps to recruit two underage girls and two women, causing them to be victims of sex trafficking. In court today, Matlock also agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of possession of a firearm. A 10-year sentence for that will run concurrently with his sentence on human trafficking.
In July, a joint effort by the attorney general’s human trafficking unit, the Travis County District Attorney’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety culminated in a 40-year prison sentence for the trafficker of a 14-year-old girl.
Attorney General Paxton has made combating human trafficking a top priority. Two years ago, he launched his office’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, which prosecutes human traffickers across the state. In April, the section’s prosecution of Backpage.com resulted in the company pleading guilty to human trafficking in Texas and its CEO, Carl Ferrer, pleading guilty to money laundering. The attorney general’s office also assisted the U.S. Department of Justice with permanently shutting down the website, which was considered the largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world.
by NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN®
Millions of kids ride a bike, take the bus or walk to school every day. Help get them to and from school more safely by following this checklist.
Review the four rules of personal safety with your children. Remind them to:
Check first with you or the adult in charge before going anywhere, helping anyone, accepting anything or getting into a car.
Take a friend when going places or playing outside.
Tell people “NO” if they try to touch you or hurt you. It’s OK for you to stand up for yourself.
Tell a trusted adult if anything makes you feel sad, scared or confused.
Walk the route to and from school with them pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they need help. Tell them not to take shortcuts and to stay in well-lit areas.
If your younger children take the bus, wait with them or make sure they’re supervised by someone you trust at the bus stop.
Teach your children to recognize the tricks someone may use to abduct them such as asking for help or offering them a ride. Tell them to never approach a car without getting your permission first.
Encourage your children to kick, scream and make a scene if anyone tries to take them.
Instruct your children to get away as quickly as possible if someone is following them. If they are being followed by someone in a car, teach them to walk in the opposite direction from the one in which the car is driving.
Be sure your children’s school has up-to-date emergency contact information. Learn about their pick-up procedures so only those you’ve authorized can pick up your children.
Make sure your children know how to contact you in case of an emergency.
Bond Reduced For Two Illinois Men Charged
With Kidnapping Olive Branch Teen Lured
MEMPHIS, TN – An Olive Branch, Mississippi judge reduced bonds for two Illinois men accused of kidnapping a teenager earlier this month.
30-year-old Juan Andrade and 29-year-old Jason St. Aubin are charged with kidnapping and conspiracy for taking a 14-year-old boy from his home. They both had $600,000 bonds until Tuesday. The bond for Jason St. Aubin was reduced to $500,000. Juan Andrade’s bond is now $300,000.
“That was just an agreement taking into account the appropriate circumstances, under the rules of criminal procedure,” says prosecutor Luke Williamson.
Olive Branch Police say the two Illinois men charged with conspiracy and kidnapping could face additional charges. Local authorities along with the FBI are still gathering evidence.
Police believe the suspects used a video gaming messaging app to lure an Olive Branch, Mississippi teen from his home earlier this month. The boy is safe, but the case is far from over.
“This is an ongoing investigation and does involve coordination with other agencies and so it is still in progress,” says Williamson.
The mothers of both suspects were in court Tuesday, but they didn’t talk to the media.
Once the investigation is done, the case will go to the grand jury who will then decide if the two men should be indicted on the charges against them.
Father charged with capital murder after
stabbing toddler in Lewisville, police say
DALLAS, TX – A father accused of slamming his toddler son on the sidewalk and stabbing him in a deadly attack has been charged with capital murder, Lewisville police said.
Blair Ness, 27, was released from the hospital Tuesday and booked into the Lewisville city jail after the attack that killed his son, 16-month-old Ashton Ness, Sunday in a courtyard at Oak Forest Apartments in Lewisville. Bail is set at $1.5 million.
As Ness, who was shot by a neighbor trying to stop the attack, was being handcuffed Sunday, he asked police to contact his mother and girlfriend. He told officers, “I know everyone’s mad, I’m mad. I killed my son,” according to an affidavit for his arrest.
A forensic investigator found stab wounds “all over” the boy’s head and body, police records say.
Police said evidence indicates that Ness’ attack on the toddler began inside the apartment he shared with his son and girlfriend, who was at work when the boy was killed. Officers found a large blood stain on the carpet in the master bedroom, a blood-stained folding knife and skull fragments near the bedroom door, the affidavit states. The apartment was smoky and smelled of marijuana, police said.
A trail of blood led outside to the scene of the attack, where officers saw several bloody kitchen knives in the grass next to a pool of blood.
When police interviewed the boy’s mother and Ness’s girlfriend, Alexandra Murphy, she said she couldn’t think of any reason why Ness would want to harm their son, the affidavit said. He had been reading the Bible a lot and they had been attending church lately, she told police. When she left the apartment Sunday to go to work, Ness was feeding their son.
In a statement, Ness’s family asked to be left alone to mourn Ashton.
“The shock of this vicious act will forever affect anyone that is close to this horror that happened on August 19th. We thank you for all the support, space and kindness during this time. We love you Ashton and we will always remember your beautiful smile and laughter,” the statement read.
The family’s statement said Ness “left this earth sometime in the last few weeks as he opened a door to allow demons to enter into his body.”
Ness did not have a criminal history in Dallas, Denton, Collin or Tarrant counties, according to court records.
In 2013, he entered a guilty plea in New Mexico on charges of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and kidnapping of a victim younger than 18. He pleaded guilty but was placed on deferred adjudication probation, court records indicate. The charges were dismissed in 2018 when he completed the probation program.
Ness was arrested March 23, 2013, after an overnight standoff with a SWAT team in Los Lunas, N.M., according to KOAT-TV. Police were called to his home after a woman told dispatchers she had been sexually assaulted, and Ness refused to come out for six hours until police fired pepper spray inside, the station reported.
It is unclear whether Ness has an attorney yet.
Just days before the attack, Ness posted a picture on Facebook of the young family and expressed his devotion to them and Jesus.
“The start of something beautiful!” he wrote. “I love my family, man do we have a strong bond, let’s all stand strong in jesus christ cause it’s so much better than magic.”
Ness was treated for a hand injury, likely from the knife used in the attack, and a gunshot wound to the leg, police said. Toxicology tests are pending.
Friends will hold a public candlelight vigil Thursday for 16-month-old Ashton Ness. The event will be at 7:30 p.m. at Wayne Ferguson Plaza on Church Street in Lewisville.
Family set up a GoFundMe campaign to help Ashton’s mother with funeral expenses.
A description for the fundraiser said Ashton “lit up a room when he entered it,” and had “the cutest dimples you ever saw.”
The fundraiser had surpassed its goal of $15,000 on Tuesday.
Several neighbors at the sprawling Oak Forest Apartments complex, along State Highway 121 Business just west of Interstate 35E, saw and heard Sunday’s attack in the courtyard.
Neighbors say Ashton’s father came out of his apartment ranting and raving as he carried a child in his arms who wasn’t moving.
Nine frantic neighbors, including the girlfriend of the neighbor who shot at the father, called 911 during the attack, according to recordings released by the city. Each told dispatchers there was a man stabbing his son in the apartment courtyard.
One man told the dispatcher: “They slammed the little kid on the ground. They’re stabbing their baby out here in the middle…”
“They’re stabbing their baby?” the dispatcher asked.
“They’re stabbing the baby right now in the middle of the complex, right now,” he said.
Another caller told a dispatcher, “There’s blood everywhere.”
“I think the dad killed him,” she said. The woman then told the dispatcher she heard two or three gunshots.
“Shots just went off,” she said.
Neither the police nor Child Protective Services had been previously called to the boy’s home in Lewisville, Capt. Jesse Hunter said at the scene Sunday.