Convictions and sentences against former Gilmer pastor upheld

Published on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 15:36 - Written by BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS Special Correspondent

The 6th Court of Appeals has upheld the convictions and six life imprisonment sentences assessed last year against a former Gilmer pastor who pled guilty to committing several sex-related offenses against a female relative starting in her childhood, Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd said Tuesday.

Hugo Fluellen, 53, was sentenced Oct. 15 of last year by 115th District Judge Lauren Parish on three counts of sexual assault of a child, two counts of indecency with a child, and one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child—all of which occurred over a period of years starting in 2006, Byrd said at the time.

A jury convicted Fluellen after he pled guilty. Appellate Justice Jack Carter, who authored the opinion denying Fluellen’s appeal on Friday, said the onetime Baptist minister “contends that the trial court erred in accepting his pleas because he was not properly admonished and his plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily.”

But Carter said the appeals court determined the plea was “voluntary and intelligent.” He also wrote that “the record shows that Fluellen was aware of the consequences of his plea and that he was neither misled nor harmed by the admonishments given by the court.”

Although Fluellen orally pled guilty in front of the jury, the state had to present evidence to jurors because he would not sign a written stipulation of evidence, Byrd said last October. The defendant impregnated the victim in 2011 and continued molesting her until his Dec. 7, 2012 arrest, the prosecutor said.

The life sentences were automatic because Fluellen had already been sentenced to prison by Upshur County in 1987 for sexual assault, Byrd said last year. However, it was Judge Parish’s decision to make the sentences consecutive rather than concurrent, he added.