“You didn’t fool this jury. You fooled yourself, but you didn’t fool this jury”. Those were the words of State District Judge Delinda Gibbs Walker to Ikeal Wade Gardiner on Wednesday afternoon after a Jasper County Jury found him guilty of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child. Gardiner was then sentenced to life in prison, with Judge Walker telling him “that is what you deserve”.
The 63-year-old Buna man had been on trial for sexually abusing a child. It began in 2017 and continued until she made an outcry at school in 2019.
Gardiner spouted scripture while on the stand under questioning, denying that he ever harmed the child. That came full circle during the punishment phase with Gardiner sitting at the defense table with an open Bible in front of him and wearing a silver cross necklace, Judge Walker said “You’ve quoted all of this scripture to us, well now I have a scripture for you; Matthew 18:6”, and with that Judge Walker began quoting “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea”.
Following the life sentence, the girl addressed Gardiner during a victim impact statement. Judge Walker had the girl sit in her chair on the bench to address Gardiner.
The victim’s mother also addressed Gardiner, and she too had a scripture for him. She read aloud Romans 13:1-5, which said “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience”.
The mother summed it all up be saying “Today, justice was served for my little girl”.
The most damning piece of evidence in the trial was a video of Gardiner being interviewed by law enforcement in which he denied nothing, and admitted everything. Gardiner, who brought his 80-year-old mother with him to the questioning session, held his face in his hands and cried as he revealed every detail. Those details included watching cartoon pornography with the child on his cell phone, and sexual acts inside a home and others in Gardiner’s work shed, and also in a wooded area behind the home in Buna.
Shortly before Judge Walker had Jasper County deputies to take Gardiner away in handcuffs, she had one last message for him. “Mr. Gardiner, tonight you’ll be in a jail cell, but I’ll be in Church and teaching a class to our youth on this very subject. Today, you’re suffering from your sin”.
Jasper County District Attorney Anne Pickle prosecuted the case on behalf of the State of Texas, and Beaumont attorney Bernie Packard represented Ikeal Wade Gardiner.
Written By: Steve Steward for KJAS Jasper, Texas