Willis Resident Sentenced to 55 years for Assaulting His Father
WILLIS, TX -- On Wednesday, June 9, 2021, a jury found Eric Joshua Gustafson guilty of assaulting the charge of Assault Causes Bodily Injury to a family member. On June 10, 2021, the jury sentenced Gustafson to 55 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice — Institutional Division. Assistant District Attorneys Michael Ghutzman and Leah Fiedler tried this case in the 9th District Court, the Honorable Phil Grant presiding. Because of his prior felony history, Gustafson faced a potential range of punishment of twenty-five years to life in prison.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Gustafson, 37, brutally attacked his father while his father was sleeping. The assault occurred the morning of August 10, 2019, in the Walnut Cove area of Willis, Texas. Jurors heard evidence that Gustafson repeatedly struck his father in the face causing multiple lacerations, severe bleeding, and swelling. Gustafson's father, 62, fled his home on foot to a family member's home a short distance away. Deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) quickly responded to the scene and encountered Gustafson still on location. While deputies attempted to gather information, Gustafson became aggressive with law enforcement. Gustafson was ultimately charged with the felony offense of Assault Family Violence due to him having been previously convicted for committing an act of family violence against his former girlfriend in 2017.
In the punishment phase of trial, the State provided witness testimony and evidence from a Montgomery County Sheriff's Office deputy who had been attacked by Gustafson while responding to another domestic incident at Gustafson's parent's home in 2014. During that incident, Gustafson tackled the deputy and stripped away his baton. The lone deputy physically fought with Gustafson for several minutes until backup arrived.
The State also showed evidence of Gustafson's prior criminal convictions including Attempted Robbery, multiple convictions for Assault on a Public Servant, Criminal Mischief, Driving While Intoxicated, and Criminal Trespass. This is the fourth time that Gustafson has been sentenced to prison for committing a violent criminal offense.
Prosecutor Michael Ghutzman: 'This defendant's brutal assault on his father was just the latest in a string of attacks on members of his family and on law enforcement officers. With the assistance of several witnesses, we were able to provide evidence to the jury of Gustafson's guilt in this assault and his extensive criminal history, and we are grateful to the jury for their substantial sentence for a habitual offender. We want to particularly thank the deputies of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office for their work in this important family violence
District Attorney Brett Ligon: 'Mr. Gustafson struck out at everyone around him, everyone who cared for him or who could possibly help him. Friends, family, and law enforcement experienced his anger. Finally, he viciously assaulted his own elderly father, a man who was providing him a place to sleep and food to eat. That was too much for this community, and the jury told him so in no uncertain terms.'