BAYTOWN, Texas – The Baytown man who was found guilty of sexually abusing three young girls, including a 5-year-old paraplegic, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Monday.
Steven Chavez Florez was found guilty in February and sentenced Monday by Judge Jeth Jones in the Galveston County District Court.
In December 2019, Child Protective Services and the Texas City Police Department started investigating the sexual abuse of a 5-year-old paraplegic child.
Florez was already under indictment for a 2017 child sexual abuse case involving an unrelated 9-year-old girl.
Eventually, Florez was indicted for continuous sexual abuse of a child younger than 14 years of age.
A week-long jury trial began on Feb. 13.
The victim, who was 5 years old at the time, testified that Florez had sex with her many times while he was dating and living with her mother.
The victim from the original 2017 case, who was 9 at the time, also testified that Florez touched her sexually.
Cheryl McCarty of the Child Advocacy Center testified about her forensic interviews with the two victims. UTMB Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Tami McCreight and Child Abuse Expert Nurse Practitioner Maylin Gerardo-Lopez also testified.
DPS Crime Lab Forensic Biologist Jacaranda Solis and DNA Analyst Ashley Kibbe testified that the sexual assault examination located a single sperm in the 5-year-old victim.
In closing arguments, Chief Assistant District Attorney Raneca Henson told the jury, “there should never be a sperm cell in a 5-year-old girl… This defendant took advantage of the access and opportunity he had to these victims and violated their families’ trust in him.”
The mother of the 5-year-old victim also testified.
During the punishment hearing Monday, a third child victim testified Florez touched her sexually when she was 9 years old after Florez moved in with her family when he was released from prison the last time.
Prosecutors Henson and Hilary Miller presented evidence showing Florez’s extensive criminal history, including numerous state and federal prison sentences, jail time, involvement in a criminal street gang, and continual substance abuse.
Prosecutors brought out the lasting negative impacts that Florez’s actions caused for these victims, including diagnoses of PTSD, anxiety, depression, self-harm, and even suicide attempts by some. Prosecutors argued that a sentence of life without the possibility for parole is the only way to ensure that Florez does not prey upon more children in the future.
“The girls spoke their truth and ultimately justice was finally served. Judge Jones’s sentence of life without the possibility of parole will ensure that this defendant cannot abuse another child, and our community is safer as a result,” Miller said.