Man Civilly Committed as a Sexually Violent Predator
GALVESTON – Yesterday, Walter Peter Grice, Jr., 61, was civilly committed after a jury found that he is a sexually violent predator.
On Monday, March 13, 2017, Grice’s jury trial began in the 212th District Court. The State filed its civil suit in July 2016 alleging that Grice is a sexually violent predator and requesting that he be committed for treatment and supervision. Grice is currently in the custody of the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, where he has been since 1996, with a scheduled release date of May 1, 2017.
During the three day trial, the State presented evidence that Grice was convicted in 1996 for two sexually violent offenses: a 1994 sexual assault and a 1995 aggravated sexual assault of a child. Grice was originally sentenced to 10 years probation for the 1994 sexual assault of an adult female but was later revoked when, only three months later, he committed the aggravated sexual assault of a five year old child.
The State’s Expert testified that Grice does have a behavioral abnormality and is likely to commit acts of sexual violence in the future. The Expert explained to the jury that Grice’s criminal history shows a pattern for breaking the law and violating the rights of others. The State also showed the jury that Grice has never taken responsibility for his crimes until now. The State went on to outline a pattern of Grice’s sexual violence by showing that in addition to the two previous convictions Grice was charged with Indecency with a Child in 1989 but pled to a reduced charge of Injury to a child and then again in 1992 he was charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and pled to a reduced charge of assault causing bodily injury.
Grice’s other convictions that were presented to the jury included felony theft, felony burglary, and felony injury to a child when he beat a five-year-old child with an extension cord, in addition to multiple misdemeanors. The jury took less than 2 hours to deliberate yesterday afternoon before returning with its verdict.
Under Texas Law the State can file a civil petition in the court an offender was last convicted for a sexually violent offense alleging the offender is a sexually violent predator and requesting the offender be civilly committed, upon release from prison, to a facility for treatment and supervision. To prevail, the State must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender is a repeat sexually violent offender and the offender suffers from a behavioral abnormality that makes the offender likely to engage in a predatory act of sexual violence. The offender must also be examined by a psychiatrist or psychologist to determine the existence of the behavioral abnormality.
Once an offender has been found to be a sexually violent predator and civilly committed the offender is sent to an inpatient facility in Littlefield, Texas to undergo treatment and supervision. The offender’s commitment status is evaluated every two years by conducting a new psychological review to determine if the behavioral abnormality has changed to extent that the offender is no longer a menace to the health and safety of another person.
Representing the State was Texas Special Prosecution Unit Attorney Kimberly Clark and Assistant District Attorney Brent Haynes in the 212th District Court, with Judge Patricia Grady presiding.