AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Defense attorneys began closing arguments with an admission.
The actions by their client, Terry Miles, were not rational, but his lawyers argued they were done out of fear. Prosecutors countered by saying, there was nothing reasonable by the excuses offered by the defense team.
It took the jury only about two hours to hand down a guilty verdict. Chad Creasey with the FBI praised the Federal, State and Local effort that made the conviction possible. Creasey said the verdict sends a clear message to predators.
"We are coming for you, we won’t stop, it doesn't matter where you go, we can reach out across the world, so we can eventually find you and bring you home,” said Creasey.
Miles was indicted on 2 counts of kidnapping as well as transporting minors for the purpose of eliciting and engaging in sex. Miles lived in a Round Rock duplex with the girls and their mother; Tanya Bates.
In early January of last year, police found the body of Bates in the home; but Miles and the girls were gone. They were eventually found in Colorado.
In closing arguments, the defense attorney for Miles suggested that enemies of Bates killed her. It was explained to the jury that Miles, irrationally, fled the state in order to protect her daughters from the unknown killer. A point of contention in the trial was how the sisters, after their recovery, initially told authorities they had left willingly with Miles. They also have said they did not consider him to be a threat. The attorney for Miles pointed out the story changed a few weeks before the trial. The eldest sister, now 15, testified that Miles sexually abused her and killed their mother before they left for Colorado. The fight was because he wanted to marry the teen.
Defense attorney's urged the jury to believe the teen's original story and acquit Miles. At the same time, they also told the jury that the teen was someone who lied a lot. Prosecutor's argued there was enough physical evidence to convict Miles of kidnapping and the sex crimes. The guilty verdict comes with a sentencing range of 20 to life. U.S. Attorney John Bash made it clear the crimes Miles committed do not justify any leniency.
"There's been a lot in the news about mandatory minimum sentences, and there is a lot of criticism about mandatory minimum, and maybe some of that criticism is justified depending on the offense, but boy am I glad really glad there is a mandatory minimum in this case when you are talking about kidnapping a minor not related to you, taking them across state lines and sexually abusing them. I'm glad there is a 20-year mandatory minimum in this case,” said Bash.
It was noted, DNA from Miles was found on the teen's clothing and on her personal towel. Blood from Bates was also found on his shoe. In an attempt to explain that, defense attorneys suggested mistakes could have been made during the collection of evidence.
Sentencing for Miles is set for April 25. He is not eligible for parole but he can get good time credit toward an early release.
Murder charges are still pending in Williamson County.