By Ben Lane, TSB Staff
A jury sentenced ex-McKinney chiropractor David Allen Russell to 23 years in prison for sexual assault on Wednesday. Late Tuesday evening the jury found Russell guilty on five charges of sexual misconduct. Just after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, the 12-member jury sentenced Russell to prison time on each of the five counts.
Before his sentence was read aloud Wednesday evening, Russell made a short statement to the court. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. It was never my intention to create any pain.”
The jury sentenced him to 15 years in prison on one count of sexual assault with a child. The sentencing options for this charge are a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000.
On the other count stemming from the same victim, Russell was sentenced to eight years in prison for indecency with a child by contact. That charge also carries sentencing options ranging from two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Russell was not given a fine on either count.
Before ruling on whether or not the sentences would run consecutively or concurrently, Judge John Roach Jr. told Russell, “What you have done to these victims is atrocious. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Judge Roach also commended the courage of the victims who came forward and put this to an end.
Judge Roach then ruled that the 15-year sentence and the 8-year sentence be stacked on top of each other, meaning Russell will serve 23 years in prison. He said that the 15-year sentence must be served in full before the eight-year sentence can begin.
Judge Roach then ruled that the remaining three sentences would run concurrently with the 23-year prison term for Russell.
In two counts of sexual assault, Russell was sentenced to 10 years in prison with no fine for each. The sentencing option for each of these charges is a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000.
He was also found guilty on one other count of indecency with a child by contact. Russell was sentenced to 12 years in prison for this charge that involved a 13-year-old girl.
In total, the jury sentenced Russell to a total of 56 years in prison but Judge Roach determined that four of the five sentences would run concurrently. Therefore Russell will serve the 15-year sentence, the 12-year sentence and the two 10-year sentences all at the same time. Then he will serve an additional eight years for a total of 23 years in prison.
Probation was an option in four of the five charges but was not available in one count of indecency with a child by contact because the victim was 13 at the time of the offense.
The jury deliberated for nearly five hours before coming to a decision and handing down their verdict. Judge Roach announced Russell’s sentence to a packed courtroom. Many of the witnesses who had testified throughout the punishment phase of the trial were on hand as Russell’s sentencing was read. The victims and their families sat on the left side of the courtroom, along with some of the McKinney detectives who investigated the allegations against Russell.
Russell’s family, including Suzan Taylor, Russell’s girlfriend, and others who supported Russell sat on the right, behind Russell and his attorneys as the sentence was handed down. Russell slumped over and placed his hands on the table in front of him for support as the verdict was read.
After the trial was completed, one of the jurors spoke with TownSquareBuzz.com about her experience in the trial. Kendra Gump of Allen called the experience of serving on the jury “emotionally draining. She said that the jury took so long in deliberations over Russell’s guilt because, “It’s hard to get 12 people to come together and agree on five cases.”
She continued, “We had a lot of perfectionists in there. We wanted to do it perfect and right. I think we did it right.”
As for Russell, his attorney says they plan to appeal the ruling. After the trial, Todd Shapiro told TSB, “We feel as we did before – that we stand by David Russell. We always have. We’re not happy with the verdict. We’re not happy with the sentence. We respect it and we plan on appealing. I think he absolutely plans on appealing,”
Asked about Russell’s mental state, Shapiro said, “He’s crushed. He’s in shock. He’s devastated. He’s maintained his innocence throughout this entire process. He is absolutely in shock. He respects the jury’s verdict but he doesn’t believe in it. He still doesn’t believe he did anything wrong. He’s not willing to accept responsibility.”
He said the discussion of appeal was immediate. “He will fight it”, Shapiro said. “He will continue to fight.”
Earlier in the day and only nine hours after finding Russell guilty, the jury returned to the Collin County Courthouse to hear testimony from witness for both the state and the defense.
Collin County Prosecutor Shannon Miller told the jury in her opening statement of the punishment phase that Russell was a predator who has a pattern of preying on women and children. Throughout the morning, the prosecution called nine female witnesses who testified that Russell had committed sexual abuse against them while he was their chiropractor. Many of these witnesses had not testified in the trial previously.
Four of the five named victims in the case testified against Russell as well, each testifing about their condition and mental state since Russell sexually assaulted them. One victim said that she now suffers from anxiety attacks and sometimes feels that she can’t be around children.
Another of Russell’s victims, who sobbed throughout her entire testimony, said, “When I found out that there were other girls, I thought that it was my fault. I thought that if I had been strong enough then, I could have prevented this from happening to any of the other girls.”
Members of the jury also heard from several of the named victims’ family members who testified to the impact that Russell’s abuse has left, and will leave in the future.
In Shapiro’s opening statement, he told the jury that they would bring forth a lot of people who loved David Russell and would pour their heart out for him. After a break for lunch, the defense began calling their witnesses in an attempt to humanize Russell and ask for leniency. Russell’s girlfriend Suzan Taylor dropped the biggest bombshell of the day when she testified that Russell is suffering from kidney failure and that he’s been given five years to live.
She said that he’s in stage four of five stages of kidney failure, but she did not specify if Russell was suffering from a disease or what had caused his kidney failure. She said that there was no cure for what Russell has and that he has been severely weakened by his condition.
“He has no energy,” Taylor told the jury. “He couldn’t be a practicing chiropractor if he wanted to.”
She said that Russell could no longer lift anything of significance and that he can’t exert himself. She also called Russell a “good person” and told the jury, “I don’t think you knew that you were deciding a capital case.”
She begged the jury to give Russell the minimum sentence so that he could “get out and die with us.”
Gump said that learning the news of Russell’s condition had an impact on the jury during their sentencing deliberations. “Them saying he was sick, it made it difficult on us, she told TSB. “It influenced us a lot.”
Suzan’s daughter Katie tearfully testified that Russell is “like a second dad” to her. She said, “He never means any harm. He’s just so sweet and helpful.” She also said that her opinion of Russell has not changed despite the guilty verdicts being handed down against him.
The most emotional moment of the day’s testimony came when Russell’s adopted daughter Chelsea McDonald took the stand. Before she even took her seat on the witness stand, she began to cry. She could barely even speak as Shapiro attempted to ask her questions. She was sobbing as she pleaded with the jury. “He’s my dad. You can’t take him from me.”
She buried her face in her hands as Shapiro passed her to the prosecution for questioning. The prosecution elected not to question her. As she walked past Russell on her way out of the courtroom, she cried out to him, “I love you. I love you.”
She had to be assisted out of the courtroom, as she repeatedly said, “Please don’t take him from me.” She repeated the phrase over and over again and began screaming as she was carried out of the courtroom. Her cries could still be heard inside the courtroom even when she had reached the hallway outside.
Russell was seen crying and wiping tears from his eyes as well.
During closing arguments, Shapiro pleaded with the jury to show mercy to Russell, saying “no one deserves to die alone in prison.” He called Russell “a very proud and successful man that has been stripped down to his soul.”
Miller later told the jury that Russell did not deserve mercy because he did not show any mercy to his victims. “(Russell) liked women,” she told the jury. “He liked them so much that he was able to take his position and take advantage of them. When he wasn’t excited by the women anymore, he started in on the children.”
She closed by saying, “Please stop him so one else has to suffer.”
And the jury did just that by sending Russell to prison for 23 years.
The State of Texas vs. David Russell
Jury selection and opening statements were held Monday, April 15. If you’re interested in following this trial but missed earlier stories from the witness testimony, you can click to read them below.