Preacher, Brother in Beating Face Prison
By Jim Vertuno
Netscape News, December 11, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The defense sought probation and the prosecution heavy prison sentences Thursday for a preacher and his brother convicted of beating a boy with a tree branch for goofing off at a summer program.

Seeking the lightest sentence possible from the jury, attorney Carlos Garcia argued that 23-year-old twins Joshua and Caleb Thompson deserve a second chance.

But prosecutors asked jurors to send the brothers to prison for at least 30 years.

``If you give them probation, the only one who will pay for their crime is Louie Guerrero. He's the one who carries the scars,'' prosecutor Dana Blazey told the jurors in closing arguments.

After deliberating for about two hours in the trial's penalty phase, the jurors quit for the night.

The Thompsons were found guilty Wednesday of felony injury and aggravated assault in the beating of the 11-year-old Bible student last summer. Prosecutors said Guerrero was so badly injured that he spent a week in intensive care and needed a blood transfusion.

Guerrero, now 12, flashed a big smile when he walked out of court with his family Wednesday. Several church members left in tears.

The boy's mother, Norma Arellano, said she knew the brothers would be found guilty. ``It hurt me very much what they did to my son,'' she said.

The brothers' father, Hank Thompson, leads the fundamentalist Capitol City Baptist Church where Joshua Thompson ministered to Spanish-speaking members.

During closing arguments Wednesday, the Thompsons' attorneys described them as ``cookie-cutter All-American'' men who didn't intend to inflict serious injuries.

Prosecutor Beth Payan called the Thompson brothers ``cowards'' and ``bullies'' and said the beating was a ``cold, calculated, violent act against a little boy.''

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