On Friday, June 23, 2023, a Grimes County Jury found Leslie Eugene Young, Jr. (aka LJ Young), age 36, guilty of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.
On July 6, 2022, the Grimes County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a sexual assault of a child. Investigator Swank Backhus was assigned to the case. Investigator Backhus first setup a forensic interview for the female victim.
During the forensic interview, the victim reported that while living with LJ Young in Bedias, Texas she was repeatedly sexually assaulted.
Investigator Backhus requested assistance with the investigation from District Attorney Investigator John Wren, who has extensive experience dealing with child sexual abuse cases.
On July 15, 2022, Investigators Wren and Backhus traveled to east Texas to meet with the victim’s mother.
The mother made Investigators aware she still communicated with LJ Young. She told Investigators she was willing to place a phone call to LJ Young while Investigators monitored and recorded the call. A call was subsequently made by the mother to Young. Young was confronted by the mother about various acts of child physical and sexual abuse that occurred while the mother and Young lived together in Bedias, Texas.
During the recorded call, LJ Young admitted to threatening the mother and children with firearms while they were living with him. Young admitted to having a pre-adolescent female strip naked in front of him as “punishment” for disrespecting him. There were also various admissions by Young to assaults against the mother and children.
After hearing the controlled call, Investigators Backhus and Wren expanded their investigation to include interviewing the mother and additional children.
Investigators learned over a multi-year span of time, LJ Young was responsible for family violence against the mother and every child in the home. The children ranged in age from toddler to teenager. Some of the abuse reported included: beatings of children resulting in deep purple bruising and whelps, children being punched in the face and left with black eyes or a bloody nose, a child being choked, firearms being pointed at children, children not being allowed to eat or attend school and firearms being pointed at the mother.
LJ Young was charged with Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, Aggravated Assault (x2), Injury to a Child, Assault Family Violence-Impeding Breath and Continuous Violence Against the Family.
Following Young’s arrest, a search warrant was served on his Bedias residence and three firearms were recovered. The firearms located matched the victims’ descriptions of the firearms used during the commission of the various aggravated assaults that were reported. Investigators were also able to track down a 9mm pistol LJ Young had sold. This weapon was also used to threaten multiple victims.
Prosecutors filed a joinder motion to seek permission from the Court to present all the cases together at trial. The Court ruled the District Attorney’s Office would have to pursue the indicted cases individually. Prosecutors elected to proceed forward on the Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon by threat against a child victim.
On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, a jury trial began in the 12th District Court, presided over by Judge David Moorman. Assistant District Attorneys Tammy Thomas and Meagan Callaham presented the State’s case to the jury.
During the guilt/innocence phase of the trial, jurors heard testimony from the child victim of the aggravated assault. The child testified LJ Young had abused him for years while living with Young in Bedias. The child testified prior to leaving Young’s residence, Young had pulled a black pistol on him and pointed it at his head while the victim was balled up in the fetal position on a green chair. Young told the child he should kill him because Young’s life would be better off without him around. The child testified his mother witnessed the aggravated assault and tried to intervene. This caused the mother to be assaulted too. The child testified there were numerous other incidents of him being threatened with firearms.
While on the witness stand, the child positively identified a 9mm
pistol and a .40 caliber pistol collected during the investigation, as firearms belonging to LJ Young. The child told jurors he believed the 9mm was the pistol pointed at him the day of the green chair incident.
The child also testified about extraneous offenses against him, including violent beatings perpetrated by Young. He described one incident where he was beaten with a thin fiberglass rod so badly that whelps on his buttocks slit open and bled through his underwear. He described scars he still has today from the beatings. The child testified to being punched in the face on numerous occasions. He described his eyeglasses being broken and having black eyes. He testified Young treated him like a slave and on many occasions called him demeaning names, including racial slurs. The child told jurors there were too many incidents of violence against him to count. He described having trouble separating out events or giving an exact sequence of the different assaults because they were so frequent.
The mother then testified and corroborated the child’s account of the gun incident involving the green chair.
The mother testified in detail to the jury about how she met LJ Young. She described Young as initially being kind to her and then slowly becoming abusive. The mother told jurors LJ Young was not employed much of their relationship. Young spent most of his time playing Xbox. She told jurors one of the primary things that would set Young off was having his Xbox gaming sessions disturbed.
The mother told the jury that over time, the violence against her and the children became a daily part of life within the home. The mother told jurors she too was threatened with firearms by Young. She feared going to law enforcement because she did not feel like she would be believed. She also feared for her safety and the children’s safety if Young was able to get out of jail on bond after a police report had been made.
The mother testified LJ Young was skilled at putting on a fake persona in front of most people. She stated very few people had any idea what was going on inside the home.
The mother testified when the COVID shutdown began in March 2020, the violence got much worse because the children rarely left the home. She explained this is what caused bruises and signs of abuse to go undetected. The mother told jurors that near the end of 2020, she finally confided in a group of female friends, at her place of employment, about the continuous family violence.
The mother testified that over the next six months, this group of women developed an escape plan to get her and the children away from LJ Young. These women saved money, collected essential household items and found a home for her and the children to move into located outside Grimes County. The mother described her and the older children slowly sneaking items out Young’s residence by pretending the items were trash. This included the children’s clothing, shoes and toys.
The mother testified in May 2021, she was awakened in the middle of the night by LJ Young. Young told the mother he dreamed he had killed her and all the children and his problems were gone. When the mother arrived at work the next morning, she told her group of female friends about the latest firearm incident. The women decided they had to get the mother and children out immediately.
The mother testified that two days later, the husband of one of the women involved in the escape plan, was enlisted to help. The husband lured LJ Young away from his home by taking him to a mud park near Huntsville, Texas. The mother testified once confirmation was received by text that Young was at the mud park, her friends traveled to the home as a group. They rapidly packed up the children and some belongings. The mother and children then left the residence for good.
The mother testified after getting out of Young’s residence, she got the children enrolled back in school. The children had not attended school for over a year at the time they moved. According to the mother, LJ Young would not allow the children to attend school and rarely allowed them to interact with anyone outside the home.
The mother told the jury she finally made a police report in July 2022 after learning of additional child abuse.
The jury heard the controlled call made by the mother to LJ Young, which included admissions by Young to pointing guns at the child victim and the mother.
The jury also heard from both a family violence expert and a child abuse expert. They learned about the cycle of family violence, the impact of trauma memory, why delayed reporting is common and child abuse grooming techniques, amongst other related topics.
On Friday, June 23, 2023, the jury heard closing arguments from
both the prosecution and the defense. The jury returned a guilty verdict for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.
Prosecutors then began calling witnesses to testify in the
punishment phase of the trial.
The jury heard from an eyewitness, who saw LJ Young punch one of the children in the face at a holiday event.
Another eyewitness testified to seeing a child get beaten with a rod by LJ Young to the point the child could not leave the home for two weeks because of visible injuries. The eyewitness saw another child get punched in the face by Young. Both incidents happened while this eyewitness was visiting Young’s Bedias home.
Both eyewitnesses testified they did not report the incidents or intervene because they knew it would make the situation worse for the mother and children.
A third child testified to being choked by LJ Young while living with him. This child said he was approximately 7 years old when the incident happened. The child described LJ Young using one hand to pick him up off the ground by his throat. He described being unable to breath before being slammed to the ground by Young and then being hit repeatedly in the face.
The sexual assault victim then testified. She recounted numerous incidents of being sexually assaulted by LJ Young. She told the jury after the assaults began, Young forced her to take a pregnancy test and told her if she was pregnant, he would make her have an abortion. She also told the jury that Young told her he would kill her and anyone she told about the sexual abuse.
The sexual assault victim told the jury because she had also been physically abused and seen LJ Young beat and point guns at others in the household, she believed his threats.
The aggravated assault victim, from the primary offense on trial, testified about the struggles he was having at this point in his life because of the trauma of his youth. He described dropping out of school because he had never been allowed to consistently attend school and was too far behind his peers. He described consistently dealing with anger management issues. He told jurors he planned to begin working toward a GED, to get his driver’s license and to find employment, once the trial was over.
Finally, the mother testified a second time. The mother told the jury about the day she learned about the sexual abuse in July 2022. The mother recounted an argument with the female victim. During the argument, the victim blurted out that LJ Young had raped her prior to getting away from his home. The mother said at this point she could be silent no more and reported the sexual abuse to law enforcement officials immediately.
The mother tearfully told the jury she had never reported the physical abuse out fear of retaliation from LJ Young, having no place to go, fear that she would not be believed and not wanting to abandon any of the children in the home.
The mother testified that the last few months of living with Young,
she feared on a daily basis Young was going to eventually kill the oldest boy.
Closing arguments were then given in the punishment phase of the trial. Prosecutors asked the jury to sentence LJ Young to life in prison. Prosecutors said the jury had been presented with overwhelming evidence that LJ Young’s conduct was deserving of such a sentence.
After 16 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a life sentence verdict, that included a $10,000 fine.
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon by Threat is a second-degree felony. LJ Young faced a punishment range of 5 to 99 years or life in prison because he pled true to an enhancement. The enhancement was based on a prior felony conviction for Burglary of a Habitation out of Harris County, Texas.
LJ Young is currently in the Grimes County Jail awaiting transfer to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.