It took the jury about 30 minutes to find Margarito Mike Reyes, 38, guilty of sexually assaulting his two stepdaughters.
Reyes was sentenced to five years in prison for indecency with a child and 10 years for aggravated sexual assault. The sentences will run consecutively.
The 266th Judicial District Courtroom remained silent Tuesday evening as Judge Donald Jones read both guilty verdicts, following the two-day trial packed full of emotional testimony.
On Monday, the victims testified against their stepfather, claiming that he molested them repeatedly over the course of several years.
The older victim, now 15, said Reyes started molesting her when she was in the third grade, and that he had intercourse with her on at least three different occasions.
The younger sister, now 13, said Reyes touched her inappropriately "many times."
Authorities got involved in the case after the youngest victim told a school counselor what her stepfather was doing. Child Protective Services removed the children from the home and placed them in temporary foster care before they went to live with family members near Austin.
From the beginning, the defense stuck to its claim that the girls made up the story to get back at a stepfather they believed was too strict.
According to various testimony, the girls were not allowed to socialize with friends, use a cell phone or the Internet, and were restricted in the clothes they could wear.
Reyes' attorneys, Landon Northcutt and Jason Johnson, also said the allegations were prompted by an incident involving the younger victim, who had gotten in to some trouble for lying to her parents about her whereabouts and had made up the story as a way to get back at Reyes for punishing her.
"Mike was too strict on those kids and they resented him for it," Northcutt told the jury.
The girls' mother, Jessica Reyes, also took the stand, telling the jury that at first she believed her daughters' claims, but then changed her mind and moved back in with Reyes.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Cashon asked Jessica Reyes why she was not standing by her daughters.
"Both girls are telling you what this guy is doing to them and you're picking him," Cashon said, pointing to the defendant.
"I'm not picking him," Jessica said. "You don't understand."
Reyes claimed he never molested the girls. He said if he ever touched them inappropriately it was only in the context of horseplay, and was unintentional.
He said he started "wrestling" with the girls when they got older and "liked to play a little rough."
"If they felt uncomfortable with thatů they could have at least told me," Reyes said.
Reyes remained defiant until the end - even after the jury rendered their verdict. During the punishment hearing, District Attorney John Terrill asked Reyes that if the jury gave him probation, how would he give the victims back their lives.
Glaring at Terrill, Reyes leaned back in his chair, and said, "How are they going to give me my life back?"
Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.