A Texas man faces up to 80 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of sodomizing a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl.
Matthew D. Upchurch, 20, was convicted of two counts of first degree statutory sodomy following a three-day jury trial in Platte County Circuit Court.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, “These young children showed great courage in coming forward to face their abuser. He molested them and warned them against telling anyone. While the jury’s verdict will not immediately heal their wounds, it will teach them that actions have consequences and even children have power to stop their abusers.”
Upchurch was 16 and living in Kansas City when he abused the two children. He moved to Texas in the spring of 2005 with his mother and her boyfriend. He waived extradition and was returned to Missouri, where he was certified to stand trial as an adult.
Prosecutors proved at trial that Upchurch began sexually abusing the children in February 2003. The abuse lasted until June 2005, when it was revealed by the children. The victims testified that Upchurch told them not to tell or he would get in trouble.
The jury recommended Upchurch be sentenced to 40 years in prison on each count. Judge Abe Shafer increased Upchurch’s bond to $500,000 cash following the verdicts. Upchurch is currently being held in the Platte County jail. His sentencing is scheduled for August 7.
Zahnd said his office would ask for the jury’s sentences to be run consecutively. Those convicted of first degree sodomy of a child under 12 must serve 85% of their sentences before becoming eligible for parole.
Zahnd said, “One of the children testified that he will celebrate his seventh birthday this week. While the jury could not give him his innocence back, their finding of guilt provides reassurance that what happened to him was real, that it was wrong, and that it will be punished.”
The case was investigated by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutors Robin Threlkeld and Lindsey Mills.