Texas Man Handed 10 Life Sentences for Torturing Kids

life sentences
David Calhoun | Image by Cooke County Jail

A Harrison County man was found guilty of torturing and sexually abusing children for years and handed 10 life sentences this week.

David Michael Calhoun, 38, of Harleton, is the first of three individuals to stand trial in a child abuse case described by First Assistant District Attorney Eric Erlandson for Cooke County as “the worst abuse that I have ever seen,” according to KLTV 7.

Calhoun’s codefendants, his wife Ashley Elizabeth Calhoun, and Mireya Grace Evans, who lived with the Calhoun couple in a fifth-wheel trailer, will be pre-tried in April.

All three individuals were arrested in 2022 after allegations of torture and sexual abuse surfaced when one of the children under Calhoun’s care — his 16-year-old nephew — had fled and came to the attention of the authorities when found in a hotel room in Nebraska, reported Fox 4 KDFW.

The teen described daily abuse at the hands of Calhoun, including stabbings, beatings, having his face and genitals burned with lighters and cattle prods almost daily, and having his fingernails and toenails ripped out, per Fox 4. The nephew also reportedly had numerous teeth knocked out with brass knuckles and stated he was forced to keep a hair tie wrapped around his testicles for 24 hours.

Calhoun’s abuse was directed at his nephews and stepchildren while they were under his care from 2017 to 2022 in several East Texas cities, including Harleton, Jefferson, and Athens, per KLTV 7.

The trial jury deliberated for under an hour before finding David Calhoun guilty on five counts of sexual assault of a child, seven counts of aggravated assault, and one count of assault strangulation. Jurors passed a punishment verdict of 10 life sentences, a 10-year sentence, and two 20-year sentences. Judge Janelle Haverkamp ordered Calhoun to serve five of the life sentences consecutively.

“The resilience and strength that the children showed in this case is awe-inspiring,” said Erlandson, per Fox 4. “They never gave up and showed tremendous courage from the very beginning. The lasting legacy of this case is that evil will not prevail — even when things seemed hopeless the children were determined to make their story heard.”

In February, another child abuse case was opened in Allen after allegations arose of 36-year-old Lul Nyachua Top allegedly abusing and torturing her six children, as covered in The Dallas Express. Upon removal from Top’s care, the children allegedly described continuous threats of bodily harm, knife cuts, and other forms of abuse. They also reportedly tested positive for cocaine. After a two-hour standoff with SWAT, Top was arrested on child abuse charges and more.

A total of 182 Texas children died due to abuse and neglect in fiscal year 2022, the majority being under the age of 3, according to data from the Department of Family and Protective Services.

The Dallas Police Department investigates child abuse and other crimes against children but has been laboring under a significant staffing shortage. It fields approximately 3,000 officers even though a City report recommended a force of 4,000 to ensure public safety.

The officer shortfall is expected to persist as DPD was budgeted just $654 million this fiscal year. City officials opted to spend far fewer tax dollars on the police force than their counterparts in other high-crime jurisdictions, such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

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