A North Texas man who tortured his former neighbor while holding her captive nearly two weeks was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison.
Jeffrey Allen Maxwell, 59, was sentenced after jurors deliberated about 50 minutes. He will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years.
He was convicted Tuesday of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated sexual assault. He faced a minimum sentence of probation.
After abducting his ex-neighbor last March, he drove 100 miles away to his Corsicana home, 50 miles south of Dallas. Then he whipped and sexually assaulted her on a deer-skinning device. He assaulted her on his bed and kept her chained there during most of the ordeal. She was rescued when authorities went to question him about her disappearance after her house near Weatherford, about 70 miles west of Dallas, burned down.
During closing arguments, Parker County prosecutor Kathleen Catania told jurors that Maxwell previously had not been convicted of a felony and was eligible for probation, but "you don't get a free pass your first go-around." As she walked in front of jurors and held up items seized from his home, she said Maxwell collected locks, restraints, handcuffs, pepper spray, sex toys, whips, gags, pornography with bondage and rape scenes -- and women's underwear.
Earlier Wednesday, jurors were shown authorities' recorded interviews with Maxwell in which he says he stole panties from the daughters of several girlfriends without their knowledge about 30 or 40 times. He initially tells the investigator they were "souvenirs" from ex-girlfriends when he was asked about the numerous pairs of panties found at his house.
"That's what this defendant feeds off of. He takes the most intimate piece of apparel ... without consent," Catania told jurors. "This defendant is what gives people nightmares. ... He is pure and unadulterated evil as he sits there."
Prosecutor Jeff Swain said Maxwell has shown a pattern of acting on his sexual fantasies by abusing women. He reminded jurors that Maxwell locked the victim in a wooden box when he left his house one day and also made her urinate on a mat while he watched.
"If there was ever a time for a maximum sentence, it is this case," Swain told jurors.
But defense attorney James Wilson had said that if jurors sentenced Maxwell to probation, he would be ordered to register as a sex offender, could be forced to undergo counseling and might be required to wear an ankle monitor. Wilson also said that Maxwell could be ordered to pay for the victim's counseling and re-pay court costs.
"What he did to her was horrible at first and then it started tapering off. Why? I don't know," Wilson told jurors. "... Only y'all can figure out what's in his heart of hearts."
Defense attorneys called no witnesses during the entire trial.
During the trial's penalty phase earlier Wednesday, the victim testified again, saying she still has problems with her shoulder since her arm was fractured. That happened after Maxwell chained her wrists to the device in his garage and hoisted her off the ground. The woman, 63, also said she lost three cats and irreplaceable belongings in the fire and was trying to forgive Maxwell. The deeply religious woman has never been married and had no sexual experiences before the ordeal.
"I wanted to die as a virgin. He robbed me of that," she told jurors.
The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.
In another recorded interview with authorities after his arrest, Maxwell tells the investigator that was the first time he had done anything like that "to a complete stranger," later saying he had tried bondage with his second wife and even used a stun gun on her.
Two women told jurors that Maxwell molested them when they were children. Another woman testified that Maxwell raped her nearly 20 years ago after going to her house unexpectedly. She said she didn't want to go to court but filed a police report so there would be a record, in case Maxwell was ever arrested in another case.