Transient gets 50 years for South Austin sexual assault

Derek Grinstead entered court Friday wearing an oversized suit jacket. The sentence he received from Judge Julie Kocurek was also pretty big.

"The court having found you guilty, sentences you to serve 50 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,” said Kocurek.

Grinstead hung his head in disappointment when the sentence was announced. The time he'll spend behind bars, however, was more than what his victim and her family had hoped for. They were expecting a 30-year sentence, according to family spokesman Harold Piatt.

"It’s difficult for a lady, 20 years old to go through this, it was incredibly difficult for her to come forward,” said Piatt.

It was also noted by Piatt that her standing up certainly prevented another attack. 

"She has grown to understand she is a lot stronger than she was, and yes you can fight this, and if you are victim of a sexual assault or any other kind of family violence you need to come forward, because that’s the only way it’s ever going to stop, and you're protecting other people from becoming victims as well,” said Piatt.  

The incident happened in Southpark Meadows on October 22, 2018. Grinstead, a homeless transient at the time, followed a woman into her store and at knifepoint sexually assaulted her. Quick response by police led to his quick arrest.

Security video and DNA evidence proved Grinstead was the attacker, but during the hearing Friday morning, the prosecutors played a jailhouse phone call where Grinstead continued to deny involvement.

"No matter what happens, that I did not do that, I think that’s the worse thing that somebody there do because I didn't do it,” said Grinstead

The recorded call Grinstead made from jail to a friend goes beyond showing a lack of remorse argued Assistant D.A. Geoffrey Puryear.

"Having heard, everything this defendant has heard, he still persists in not taking responsibility for this Offense,” said Puryear.  

Grinstead also downplayed his criminal history which includes forgery, theft and drug possession.

"They're not violent, I have no, I don’t have a violent history,” said Grinstead who added he had family that still wanted to see him out in the world.

The judge was not moved and noted how he spent his days behind stores smoking marijuana and thinking about crimes.

"It’s scary to me that you see strangers and think about harming them, sir. So that is why it’s a 50-year sentence,” said Kocurek.

District Attorney Margaret Moore was in the courtroom during the hearing and sat next to the family.

"I was struck mostly by the courage of the victim. She is a very brave young woman,” said Moore.

Moore, who has been criticized for how her office handles sex crime cases, believes the sentence makes a statement.

"Of course it is, we are trying many more jury trails than before I got here, and the team that tried this case, were assigned specifically to our Adult Sexual Assault Unit, so this is their first case that they took all the way through, so yes,” said Moore. 

Grinstead will have a chance for parole but he will first have to serve half of that 50-year sentence.