Guilty verdict in abuse case of children tied, chained in yard

Deandre Dorch accused of knowing about 3- and 4-year-old siblings' abuse

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SAN ANTONIO – A man accused of knowing about the abuse suffered by two young children who were found tied and chained in his backyard was found guilty on all counts Wednesday.

After less than two hours of deliberation, a jury found Deandre Dorch guilty on two counts of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury by omission and two counts of child abandonment. His sentencing is scheduled for May 18, where prosecutor Karl Alexander said he will be seeking a life sentence for Dorch.

"Every defendant is different, but given his criminal history, given the seriousness of these offenses, given that these children almost died, life's appropriate," said Alexander, who is also running for judge of the 187th Judicial District Court.

Dorch left the court with teary eyes, flipping off KSAT's camera when asked if he had anything to say.

"Y'all know I ain't do that s***," Dorch said as he continued down the hall.

Porucha Phillips, Dorch's common-law wife, pleaded guilty in October to charges of injury to a child and serious bodily injury to a child and is serving concurrent 50-year sentences. Prosecutors argued that Dorch was a party to the abuse suffered by the 3-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother because he knew about it.

"Porucha was likely the one who was dealing out those beatings, but he is guilty because he helped her," Alexander told jurors during closing arguments. "He helped her by willfully turning a blind eye."

The children had been left in Phillips' and Dorch's care by their mother, Cheryl Reed, while she was in California. Reed is still awaiting trial.

Prosecutors revisited the condition the children were found in during the closing arguments and brought out the leash and chain in which they were found.

The girl, Alexander said, was "lashed to a door with a dog leash like she's being crucified on it," while the boy was tied to the ground with a chain "like he's some sort of rabid dog."

What happened to the children was "indefensible," Dorch's attorneys said, but they argued it wasn't Dorch's fault.

"Mr. Dorch never had an opportunity to let the police know that this happened to those children because he never saw it," Patrick Lamas said.

Lamas and his fellow defense attorney, Eddie Bravenec, argued that Dorch didn't see the abuse because he was working night shifts from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and suggested it was happening while Dorch was away or asleep.

However, Bravenec said at one point during his closing argument, "I gotta tell ya, Mr. Dorch knew there was child abuse occurring and he didn't report it."

Asked about the apparent contradiction after the verdict, Bravenec said he meant Dorch "clearly knew about the child abuse" that had been going on but was unaware of them being chained and tied up outside.

Bravenec said he was unsurprised by the jury's decision, saying injury to a child cases are hard to win.

"It's just really hard for a jury to see all that stuff and sort through it. And even if they think he didn't do it, it's hard for them to come to that conclusion," Bravenec said.

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.