Man gets 50 years in prison for raping woman on I-35W in November

An Alvarado man who was turned in to police by his relatives was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison for raping a University of North Texas student at knifepoint last year at an Interstate 35W rest stop in south Burleson.

Anthony Yates, 24, was sentenced by Johnson County's 249th District Judge Wayne Bridewell to two concurrent 50-year sentences after Yates pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery of the 26-year-old woman. Yates must serve half the sentence before he is eligible for parole. He will receive credit for time served in jail.

Assistant District Attorney Trey Brown said the woman flew in for the sentencing from Arizona, where she has an internship as part of her master's degree program. He said the woman did not address Yates directly but asked that her written statement be forwarded to the parole board.

"I am refusing to say anything to this person directly because, frankly, he is not worth my time any longer," the woman wrote. "I am simply satisfied to know that he will be locked away like the worthless animal he is."

Brown said the woman was returning to Denton on Nov. 27 after visiting a friend in College Station when she stopped between 12:15 and 12:30 a.m. to use the restroom at the rest stop in the 2900 block of I-35W. As she left the stall, he said, Yates grabbed her, pulled a knife and pushed her back into stall, where he sexually assaulted her.

Yates stopped when a woman with children walked in and evidently heard her crying, Brown said. The family left the room, and Yates resumed the assault after ordering the woman to put his undershirt in her mouth, he said. Yates held the knife on the woman throughout the rape but did not cut her, Brown said.

Yates walked the woman back to her vehicle, where he removed and threw away the battery from her cellphone. The woman hit him on the head with her laptop, but he grabbed it and threatened to kill her if she reported the assault. After Yates left, she drove to the nearest motel to call police, Brown said.

Based on the woman's description, a police artist's sketch was released to the media. Two of Yates' relatives recognized him and called police, Brown said. Six days after the rape, Yates was arrested outside a Walmart where his mother worked.

Yates had been sleeping in his car because relatives would not take him, citing his drug abuse, mental problems and juvenile criminal history, including a sexual assault of a nephew when he was 13, Brown said.

Yates was released from a psychiatric facility a week before the rape and was believed to be on drugs at the time, he said.

Defense attorney Robert Luttrell said Yates expressed his remorse when he was sentenced. Although relatives turned him in, they attended his sentencing to show support for his decision to plead guilty, he said.

"They all love their son and brother very much," Luttrell said. "He has had issues in the past that he sought treatment for. There is hope that he will seek help while there in prison and get rehabilitated as opposed to being locked in a cage and being punished."

The woman wrote that Yates' sentence validates her decision to call police despite his threat.

"My main concern is that he be imprisoned for as long as possible so that he cannot hurt anyone else, or worse, murder someone," she wrote.

Martha Deller, 817-390-7857