Jurors left the courtroom around 11:30 a.m. on Monday, following their charge in the Thomas Evan Cassas child molestation trial. Attorneys for the prosecution and defense sent the trial exhibits back to the jury room at around noon. By 1:10 p.m., jurors streamed out the courthouse doors on their way home.
In an hour or so, they decided and declared Cassas, 49, guilty of incest, aggressive child molestation and two counts of child molestation for acts committed against his step-daughter between 2005 and 2011.
Shauna Cassas, who Thomas Cassas met and married after his marriage with the victim’s mother fell apart, took the stand for him during sentencing. She said he loves his children, would help anyone and is what anyone should want to be. She said his previous child sex crime conviction in 2002 in North Carolina wasn’t who he is.
She also said the seven days last year in which they got married and before he was arrested for the crimes in this case were the best seven days of her life.
“I’m his wife for life,” Shauna Cassas said, and pleaded for the judge not to sentence the defendant to life in prison, because she said if that happened, by extension the judge would also be sentencing her and Thomas Cassas’ biological daughter — the victim’s half-sister — to a life sentence as well.
“He didn’t get a fair trial,” she said, and added she would continue to fight for him through this process.
Called by prosecutors to the stand, the victim, now 19 years old, testified she had a distinct memory of one day when Cassas picked her up from school and went to McDonald’s. As they waited in the drive-thru line, she said he talked about how glad he was that he did what he did to her. She said she hoped now that he had some amount of remorse.
The victim also said she forgave him — not for his benefit, but because she needs to move on, find happiness and love herself.
Each of the crimes carried with them substantial mandatory minimums, and Assistant District Attorney Thomas Buscemi reminded Glynn County Superior Court Judge Roger Lane that the District Attorney’s Office filed notices early in the prosecution that they sought to use the North Carolina conviction as evidence of a prior offense for sentencing, and that they intended to pursue life sentences for Cassas.
Lane, in pronouncing the sentence, said to Cassas, “I find you’ve deprived …, your step-daughter, of her childhood…,” and subsequently gave Cassas three life sentences, each to run concurrently. Because of sentencing guidelines, Lane gave Cassas 25 years in prison and one year probation for the incest conviction.
By the nature of the crimes committed, Cassas cannot receive parole.