Friday, January 16, 2004
Attorney General Greg Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit Wins Guilty Verdict Against Former Soldier Who Stalked ChildrenAUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes prosecutors won a guilty verdict late Thursday in Montague County against a former Fort Hood soldier for stalking a child for sex. The officers also arrested two Killeen men in an unrelated incident in Copperas Cove. They are charged with soliciting young girls for sex over the Internet.
A Montague County jury convicted Mauro Castaneda Palacio, 37, of Killeen on charges he stalked a 14-year-old girl in Bowie after chatting with her a number of times on the Internet. The jury deliberated only 15 minutes in the punishment phase of the trial to sentence him to 10 years in prison. He was also assessed a $10,000 fine, both punishments the maximum allowable under the law. Palacio will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
“This is proof that Texas juries will not tolerate this kind of deviant behavior when presented with the solid evidence our Cyber Crimes investigators and prosecutors can bring to bear against a defendant,” said Attorney General Abbott. “We look forward to obtaining convictions in similar cases pending in several counties. The children of Texas deserve no less.”
Army investigators arrested Palacio in Bell County last March after authorities were tipped that he had gathered enough chat room information about the Bowie girl to begin stalking her. Palacio eventually arrived at the girl’s doorstep while she and her sister were home alone. The younger sister informed Palacio the other girl was not at home and he left the area. Soon after, Cyber Crimes investigators prepared an arrest warrant and provided it to Army investigators, who arrested Palacio in Killeen in March 2003. He was indicted in May.
While Palacio was out on bond in this case, he also allegedly attempted to meet what he thought was a 15-year-old girl he solicited in a chat room. The “girl” was an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator and he was arrested in early November after traveling from Killeen to Bastrop County to meet her. He has been federally indicted in this case, charged with attempted enticement of a child. He is awaiting trial.
In the Copperas Cove incident, Cyber Crimes investigators arrested the Killeen men when they attempted to meet what they thought would be a 13-year-old girl at a restaurant in Copperas Cove (Coryell County).
The two had actually been chatting online with Cyber Crimes investigators, who arrested Stephen Mark Langley, 21, who is currently unemployed, and Reagan Cosper, 21, a general laborer. Both have been charged with criminal solicitation of a minor. The arrests were made with the assistance of the Copperas Cove Police Department.