WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The trial of a Waco man charged with continuous sexual abuse of an young child ended in a mistrial and a guilty plea to reduced charges Wednesday after it was discovered that a mental health treatment facility failed to turn over hundreds of pages of records pertaining to the victim in the case.
Ceasar Wayne Toliver, 33, pleaded guilty to two counts of indecency with a child by contact Wednesday and 19th State District Judge Thomas West sentenced him to 13 years in prison on each count after West declared a mistrial in Toliver’s case.
Toliver pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his girlfriend’s 11-year-old family member from October 2016 to September 2019. He faced from 25 years to 99 years without parole and up to life in prison without parole on the continuous sexual abuse of a young child charge.
He must serve at least half of his 13-year sentence before he can seek parole. He will serve the terms concurrently.
The trial, which started Monday with jury selection, hit a snag after court officials learned that Monica Ochoa, chief executive officer of Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute, did not comply with subpoenas to provide all records from the victim’s stay at the center.
Her center provided some records, but not all of them.
Prosecutors Will Hix and Will Gray again subpoenaed the records and the institute sent the same records that were sent before. They next emailed Ochoa, who disclosed that her facility discloses certain records at their choice depending on who requests them.
West then issued a court order commanding Ochoa to bring the records to court on Tuesday. She failed to comply with his orders and West ordered deputies to bring her to Waco. However, when they arrived to take her into custody, the deputies were told she was on her way to Waco.
When she arrived, she still didn’t have all the documents West ordered her to produce. So he held her in contempt of court, fined her $500 and threatened to throw her in jail unless she complied fully with the subpoenas and the court order.
When she arrived with the records Wednesday morning, the prosecutors and defense attorney Abel Reyna realized there were close to 650 pages that neither side had seen before.
After conferring, the prosecutors, Reyna and Toliver agreed to the plea bargain.
“The critically important piece of this case was that the victim was able to get closure,” Hix said. “Dragging it out longer would have done her far more harm than good.”
Reyna, a former McLennan County district attorney, said that before trial, prosecutors offered Toliver 40 years in prison with the possibility of parole in 20 years or 30 years in prison with no parole.
“It scares me because you have these entities that don’t realize the disclosure necessary and the burden both on the state, which I have experienced, as well as on the defense and their obligation to their client,” Reyna said. “It appears as though these agencies have little loopholes that they like to jump through to avoid disclosure. And while they feel like they may be protecting their patients, in a lot of ways they could be actually harming their patients even further because had this trial been declared a mistrial and reset to occur in several months, then the victim in this case would have had to deal with this at a later time.”
Reyna said it appeared to him that closure was one of the most important things for both sides to achieve, adding that Ochoa’s facility put that in jeopardy while potentially adversely affecting the victim.
“Through all the chaos and craziness, I think the state and defense worked together to come up with a resolution that I would call justice in this case, and I think we all – the state, the defense and the court – realized how important it is to make sure certain agencies produce all records,” Reyna said.