A Burnet County man was sentenced to 23 consecutive life sentences following a jury trial in the courtroom of 424th District Judge Dan Mills last Thursday, July 18. The jury found Robert Michael Arteaga guilty of multiple counts of sexual assault and possession of child pornography. The jury assessed punishment on each count and Judge Mills stacked the sentences, ensuring that Arteaga will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Assistant District Attorneys Peter Keim and Stacy Street presented evidence that Arteaga began molesting his victim when they were 4 years old and continued until the victim told a school counselor at age 15. The victim gave three hours of testimony and cross-examination at trial, and also read an emotional statement in open court after Judge Mills pronounced the sentence.
Arteaga, 40, was first arrested by the Horseshoe Bay police in December of 2011 on 18 warrants charging him with possession of child pornography and a search warrant executed at his residence revealed graphic photographs of a 14-year-old victim.
According to Horseshoe Bay Police Chief Bill Lane, "Eighteen sexually explicit and graphic child pornography photographs were discovered on Arteaga’s laptop computer". At that time, Arteaga was placed in the Burnet County Jail under bonds totaling $270,000.00.
A bond reduction hearing on January 13, 2012 resulted in a reduction of the total bond amount to $50,000.00. On January 18, 2012, Investigators obtained six additional warrants on Arteaga for allegedly possessing child pornography, totaling six charges of 3rd degree felonies. The additional charges carried a bond of an additional $2,500.00 each.
The same victim was depicted in all 24 of the photographs and was identified by police investigators.
Arteaga was released from the Burnet County Jail on all charges after District Judge Guilford Jones granted a personal recognizance bond on March 30, 2012.
On April 3, 2012, 23 of the total 24 cases filed against Arteaga were presented to a Burnet County Grand Jury; Arteaga was indicted on all of the cases brought before them and his bonds were reset by the Grand Jury at $2,500.00 surety on each charge.
On April 10, 2012, Arteaga turned himself in to the Burnet County Jail for the Grand Jury Indictments.
The criminal investigation continued into Arteaga’s alleged acts of sexually assaulting a child and on April 11, 2012, sufficient information had been developed supporting the allegation.
Affidavits were presented to Horseshoe Bay Municipal Court Judge Kevin Madison. After examining the information contained in those affidavits, Judge Madison issued warrants charging Arteaga with seven separate counts of Sexual Assault of Child, each charge punishable as a first-degree felony. Judge Madison set a bond on each of the seven charges at $500,000.00.
He did state, "This was a long and complex investigation but an indicator that we will go to whatever lengths are necessary to protect our children and aggressively prosecute those who would choose to harm them".
The abuse occurred in Burnet and Blanco Counties.
Following the verdict and sentencing, the ADA Street said, “This [victim’s] childhood was stolen by this man, and [they’ll] spend the rest of [their] life trying to overcome the unspeakable things he did to [them],” said Ms. Street. “It’s only fitting that he spends the rest of his life in prison.”
Bill Lane, Horseshoe Bay Police Chief, praised the team effort that led to the conviction and sentence. “This is an example of what happens when the entire criminal justice system works,” said Lane. “Investigator Jason Graham dedicated a year of his life to this case and handed it off to a District Attorney’s office with an equal commitment to protecting this victim. Then a Burnet County jury heard the facts and sent a strong message that our community has no tolerance for this type of predator, and the District Judge stacked the sentences to drive that message home. It was a good day for the good guys.”