Billings' Four Life Sentences Almost Didn't Happen

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY-- Life in prison, times four. That the sentence handed down to Dwayne Billings.

He was found guilty on Tuesday of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 9 year old autistic girl.

The punishment phase of the trial got started a little before 9:30 Wednesday morning. About two hours after they got the case, the jury came back with their unanimous decision, and it was a harsh one.

The unanimous verdict was a not a sure thing, right off the bat.  At just a few minutes before noon, the jury sent a note to the judge stating they were deadlocked and could not all agree on one sentence.

After over-ruling a defense motion for a mistrial, Judge John Smith ordered the jury to continue deliberating until they could reach a unanimous verdict.

As Billings rose to hear his fate, it seemed, one of the few times during the entire trial where he seemed to show any kind of emotion. Where he normally sat and looked straight ahead, on Wednesday, Billings seemed nervous, turning his head and looking from side to side.

Prosecutors say this is one of the hardest types of cases to take to trial because you have a young victim, talking about things they never should have to talk about and doing it in front of a room full of people they don't know and the person that did it to them.

Both District Attorney Bobby Bland and Deputy District Attorney Scott Layh told NewsWest 9, they are grateful for the jury's decisions and they feel justice has been served.

Billings was transported to the Ector County Detention Center, where he will be held until he is transferred to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility to begin serving his four life sentences.