16 years later, sexual assault survivor finds justice after rapist sentenced to 56 years in prison

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – In April of 2006, a 14-year-old girl was hustling home as the sun began to set over southwest Houston and the street lights were turning on.

A then 26-year-old man used that moment to corner the girl, knock her unconscious and sexually assault her. From that day, it would take 16 years to hold that man accountable.

KPRC 2 spoke with the survivor of that attack and agreed to not reveal her identity.

“That face is burned into my memory. I would never forget that face,” she said.

The face she is referring to belongs to Antoine Newton, who is now 42 years old.

“This was a man that essentially took away my childhood, my innocence,” she said.

Harris County prosecutor Anthony Osso said the attack occurred on Apr. 8, but the teen didn’t regain consciousness until the following morning.

Osso said she was walking along Fondren toward S. Braeswood when a group of men in a car began harassing and catcalling her.

Osso said the teen tried to ignore the men, but the driver stopped and two men jumped out, cornering the girl.

“You’ve got a situation where you’ve got a 14-year-old girl that is cornered, not only by a car, but a guy in front of her, a guy to the side of her and a brick wall to her right,” Osso said.

After being knocked unconscious for 11 hours, the girl awoke in an abandoned apartment before making her way home. The girl’s mother immediately took her to a hospital to have a sexual assault exam performed. The evidence collected from that exam was then handed over to the Houston Police Department, but it would go untested for a decade. The evidence became part of what was, at that time, HPD’s infamous “rape-kit” backlog.

“In this case, it wasn’t tested for foreign contributor substance all the way until about 2013 - 2014,” said Osso.

“So, it basically sat on a shelf?” asked KPRC 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.

“It sat on a shelf,” said Osso.

Osso said once the kit was tested the evidence was entered into a national database known as the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS. This database holds DNA evidence taken at crime scenes around the country and is used to try to match suspects with unsolved crimes.

Two years after the evidence in this case was put into CODIS, there was a match. Newton’s DNA was entered into CODIS after he was convicted in 2016 for his role in a drug-related murder in rural Louisiana.

“I was shaking in my boots, is the best way to describe it,” the woman said, recalling when she was first told a match had been made.

Even though Newton was charged in 2016 with this attack, the case faced delays from Hurricane Harvey shutting down the courthouse, to the COVID pandemic delaying trials, to Newton doing jail time in Bexar County for shooting at someone while he was out on bond.

“By the time I was actually assigned this case and took it to trial, it had been 16 years,” Osso said.

While at first reluctant, the woman said she was ready to face Newton in court.

“I was like nope, I don’t want to do it, don’t want to do it, don’t want to do it, until Anthony came into the picture and reassured me,” she said.

Osso said it was her clarity of memory that made him certain of the case he was bringing to trial. Osso said she identified Newton without hesitation.

“It makes you confident, it makes you feel, well it makes you want to fight for her,” Osso said.

After less than an hour of deliberation, a Harris County jury found Newton guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

“I cried because it was a weight lifted from me. I felt free,” she said. “Now, I can let it go. I’ve gotten my peace, I’ve gotten my justice, I can let it go.”

A judge then sentenced Newton to 56 years in prison.

“I can’t really describe the feeling,” Osso said of the verdict and sentence. “I was just happy to help bring this family some closure.”

The man who was with Newton during the initial attack on the teen has never been identified.