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Defense rests, State to call rebuttal witness in Killingsworth trial

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Testimony continues in the trial of Rephidim Church pastor-teacher Ron Killingsworth, with the defense calling an expert in sex offender treatment to testify on Killingsworth’s behalf.

READ MORE: Ron Killingsworth takes the stand in his own defense

Ronnie Allen Killingsworth, 78, of Wichita Falls, stands accused of six counts of indecency with a child by contact stemming from incidents involving three alleged child victims that occurred between 2000 and 2011.

Killingsworth is the founder and “pastor-teacher” of Rephidim Church, a non-affiliated congregation in Wichita Falls.

Testimony began on Wednesday afternoon, May 1, 2024, in the 78th District Court, with Judge Meredith Kennedy presiding.

A running live blog of proceedings on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, will be published below. Refresh this story often for the latest updates from top to bottom.

9:15 a.m. — Myers testified that he looked through old pictures to see if he could find any photos of the mount being given to his daughter. A photo of the mount is admitted into evidence without objections. Myers testified that this is a photo of the mount that Killingsworth gave to his daughter.

Vassar called Jeff Myers, stepfather of one of the victims, to take the stand.

Dr. Pierce is excused from the witness stand. Chuck Smith, on behalf of the defense, rested it’s case. Vassar requested a short break, as he will present a rebuttal witness. Court will resume with the prosecution calling its rebuttal witness.

9:12 a.m. — Dr. Pierce testified that it his is assessment based on the evidence he’s seen that Killingsworth’s behavior is atypical of that of a sex offender.

Vassar passed the witness back to Smith for redirect examination.

9:11 a.m. — Dr. Pierce testified that the defense is paying him to be here, and that by the time the trial is done, he will be billing between $26,000 and $28,000.

9:10 a.m. — Dr. Pierce testified that the victims of sexual abuse he’s treated often suffer from symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He testified that if any of the three victims came to his office, he would treat them.

9:07 a.m. — Vassar read testimony that Dr. Pierce gave in a 2018 trial in Bexar County. In that trial, Dr. Pierce testified that grooming is anything to create an environment where the victim feels safe and wanted. Vassar asked Dr. Pierce if people often feel safe and wanted, and Dr. Pierce agreed.

9:04 a.m. — Dr. Pierce testified that child sexual assault can happen in a second. He testified that with child sex offenses, it comes down to opportunity.

Smith passed the witness to prosecutor Bill Vassar for cross-examination.

9:00 a.m. — Dr. Pierce testified that the testimony that has been presented in this trial of grooming isn’t necessarily evidence that grooming has occurred, since the defendant has not been proven guilty. He testified that sensory details from an alleged abuse aren’t necessarily evidence that the incident occurred.

8:56 a.m. — Dr. Pierce testified that grooming is anything an offender does to move a child to become a victim of molestation. He testified this could occur in a number of ways. He testified that hindsight bias can often cause someone to point to a behavior and label it as grooming when an allegation is presented, but if that allegation is removed, it seems like normal behavior.

8:53 a.m. — Dr. Pierce testified that the number one concern for a sex offender is getting caught. He testified that based on the evidence presented so far, the layout of the church, and the allegation that the offenses occurred during breaks between classes, this would all be atypical of sex offender behavior.

8:49 a.m. — Chuck Smith moved for the Court to recognize Dr. Pierce as an expert witness in grooming and sex offender behavior, with no objection from the State. Judge Kennedy recognized Dr. Pierce as an expert.

8:45 a.m. — Dr. Aaron Pierce is on the stand on behalf of Killingsworth’s defense. Dr. Pierce testified he’s conducted sex offender treatment on “thousands” of offenders and has also treated hundreds of victims of abuse. He testified he’s been appointed by Gov. Abbott to the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment.

Bill Vassar and Dayve Jo Estes with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office have served as special prosecutors in this case while Chuck Smith and Ron Poole have served as defense counsel for Killingsworth.

If the jury of seven men and five women find Killingsworth guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the six counts alleged in the indictment.

This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available. All individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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