Man sentenced to life, charged with abusing child with autism

CONROE, TX (KTRK) -- A 33-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a child with autism.

Justin Levi Burns was convicted after jurors heard details of the abuse from the forensic interviewer, DNA analysts and testimony from the child, according to authorities. Investigators believe the child had been sexually abused by Burns from the ages of 4 to 6. At the time of trial, the child was 9 years old.

"I applaud the bravery and courage of this 9-year-old child. I also commend the efforts of law enforcement, counselors, medical nursing team, and Children Safe Harbor professionals for pulling together to bring justice for this victim," Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said.

Lead investigator Todd Hoff testified that Burns initially left Texas and went to Colorado during the investigation. With the assistance of authorities in Colorado, the Montgomery County District Attorney's office were able to locate and apprehend Burns, even after he tried to give a false name at the time of his arrest.

Prosecutor Nancy Hebert, with the Montgomery County District Attorney's office, says the jurors sent a message that the community will not tolerate those who sexually abuse children.

"The jury also reinforced that we will believe our children when the selfish desire of a perpetrator steals the innocence of a child," Hebert said.

Burns is not eligible for parole.
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