WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A jury in 89th District Court that, yesterday, September 28, 2023, found Shannon Wells guilty of multiple sex crimes against a 12-year-old girl, today, September 29, 2023, decided against a maximum sentence of life on his most serious charge.
Instead, the jury opted for a 40-year prison sentence on his charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child.
The jury previously was instructed that if they found Wells guilty on that charge, they were not to return separate verdicts on counts two through 10 (aggravated sexual assault of a child) as well as three of the sexual indecency charges. These were all considered part of the continuous sexual abuse charge.
For the five remaining indecency convictions, he was given three years on each.
The judge granted the prosecutor’s request to stack his sentences, meaning Wells must serve his 40-year sentence first, then begin serving the other sentences.
In her arguments to the jury on punishment, prosecutor Chelsea Carlton pleaded for the maximum life sentence on his first-degree felony charges, saying the difference in life sentences versus lesser sentences was the life sentence would be an ‘exclamation point’ for men who commit such crimes.
She told jurors people like Wells make our community unsafe, and jurors have the power to keep a sex predator off the streets as long as possible.
She said even though he would be an old man when he gets out of prison if given the lesser sentences, he would still pose a threat. She said he sought out the most vulnerable of victims and traumatized her for life, and she asked jurors to do the same to Wells.
Wells’ court-appointed attorney Marty Cannedy told jurors that deciding punishment in a case like this is probably harder than reaching a verdict on guilt.
He said while they heard enough bad things about Wells to find him guilty, he asked them to give him the minimum sentence on his convictions, which range from 25 years to two years and pointed out that even with the minimum, he would be an old man if he ever gets out of prison.
He asked them to consider Wells’ good points, that he has a family and children and goes to family gatherings.
The victim in this case said she and Wells’ former girlfriend, Casey Chapman, were in an intimate relationship in 2018 while they lived in the same apartment complex.
She said when Wells found out she was engaging in sex with Chapman, he demanded to have sex with the girl too.
In her victim impact statement before Judge Charles Barnard formally sentenced Wells, the victim, now a senior in high school, said Wells and Chapman traded her off like some sort of item, and she is tired of remembering it and crying.
She also said he destroyed her self-worth and that she has put herself through hell. She said he still haunts her dreams, and regardless of what sentence he receives, he will never hurt like she does.
She said she wishes she could forget and forgive him but said it hurts too much. As she gave her statement to Wells, the victim’s mother sat sobbing in the courtroom.
The other defendant, Chapman, accepted a plea deal in May for 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole for one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child.