BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As opening arguments were about to begin Tuesday morning in the trial of a former Benton Elementary School teacher charged with multiple sex crimes against children withdrew his ‘not guilty’ plea and pleaded guilty, after accepting a plea deal with the prosecution.
Aubrey Norcross, 50, who taught at Benton, and also coached the school’s championship archery teams until his Oct. 17, 2018, arrest, pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated rape, while all his other charges were dismissed.
Norcross was charged with one count of first-degree rape – later amended to attempted first-degree rape – eight counts of molestation of a juvenile, two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, and one count of video voyeurism.
The trial kicked off Monday with jury selection, which was complete just after 6 p.m., with opening arguments scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
After Norcross changed his plea to guilty, Bossier District Judge explained to Norcross his rights to a trial by jury, to confront accusers, to appeal, to be represented by an attorney, along with his right to not incriminate himself, and Norcross said he understood and waived those rights.
Prosecutor Hugo Holland then summarized the facets, and after again questioning Norcross and Angela Waltman, his defense attorney, and determined that Norcross’ plea was free and voluntary and that he understood his rights.
Norcross waived all delays, he immediately was sentenced to 50 years in prison, without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence, and was given credit for the two years, nine months, two weeks and three days he has spent at Bossier Parish Maximum Security in Plain Dealing, La.
The newly-minted seven-man five-woman jury and two alternates were discharged less than 16 hours after they had been selected.
Although a plea deal was rumored to have been in the works in 2019, prosecutors said any offers would have to be accepted by the alleged victims’ families, and nothing ever came to fruition.
According to Waltman, Tuesday’s deal only came about after several discussions with Norcross over the past few days. She said she and Norcross discussed the evidence, which the district attorney shared, along with Norcross actually walking into the courtroom Monday morning and seeing it filled with parents of children he had allegedly abused.
She was unclear whether Norcross knew any of those parents, but he did know their children, and as a teacher had most probably met at least some of them at one time or another.
Bossier Parish District Attorney Schuyler Marvin said he only learned about the plea deal Tuesday morning, as the prosecutor and defense attorney began talking about it with one another on Monday night, but added the deal was only sealed after the families of all the children had been advised and approved going forward with it.
Marvin said the victims’ families knew what it would take to put their children through testifying, “So I know they were relieved.”
He added that more than 12 children were slated to testify against Norcross in the trial, “You know, you have the right to confront your accuser, so we would have had to put them on the stand.”
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