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2016-10-20

Texas Board of Pardons & Paroles review Sorensen

Special to the Courier

Bandera County resident Gerald Rodger Sorensen was sentenced to life in prison for rape and murder in 1984.
Sorensen had been in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) system since 1963 beginning with a conviction of aggravated assault using a black jack and knife. He was also convicted of rape in California in 1965, followed by another conviction of rape and sodomy in Texas in 1973.
On Jan. 31, 1984, just months after he was granted parole, Sorensen forced his way into the home of Marie Denise Walker, a 36-year-old school teacher and Bandera resident, then raped and killed her.
At the time, Bandera County was a sparsely populated, rural area covered with large still-intact ranches. Walker lived alone in her home on the ranch of her parents, Bill and Lenna Walker, near Wharton’s Dock.
Investigators found a well-worn path from the home where Sorensen was residing with family members at Wharton’s Dock to Walker’s home, indicating that Sorensen had stalked Walker prior to attacking and killing her. Further investigations indicated that Sorensen may have been involved in two other rapes in the area, but the rapes were never solved.
According to an article written by Stephanie Logue, published in the Bandera County Courier on Nov. 5, 2003, Sorensen was convicted of aggravated sexual assault with a rifle and murder of a stranger in the course of a rape in two separate trials. If the two 1984 charges been had tried as one capital murder case by then-district attorney Joe Mike Egan, Sorensen could have received the death penalty. Sorensen was sentenced to 99 years for Walker’s rape. However, immediately following the second trial, Judge Robert Barton ruled the second conviction as double jeopardy, and assessed no additional punishment for the second crime. The option of imposing a life without possibility of parole had not yet been enacted in Texas.
Because Sorensen used a deadly weapon during the crime, he was required to serve a mandatory 20 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Since those 20 years, he has been periodically included on a parole review list – the latest being Sept. 6, 2016. The review process is normally completed within two to six months. The review does not mean the offender will be granted parole, as a Board panel must approve each release.
The TDCJ sends letters to affected parties when inmates are scheduled for parole review. In part, the letter read, “You may submit any letters, newspaper clippings, or photographs that would help the Board of Pardons and Paroles understand how the offense has affected you. In order to ensure that the Board receives your input prior to voting the case, we ask that you submit your information at your earliest opportunity. If you are a victim, the guardian of a victim, or a close relative of a deceased victim, please inform others with an interest in this offender’s consideration for parole.” Concerned residents of Wharton’s Dock, as well as friends and relatives of the late Marie Denise Walker, have requested the public’s help to ensure Sorensen remains incarcerated.
Because Sorensen last resided with his family in Bandera County, it is likely that he will return here if granted parole.
Please take time to write a letter, fax or e-mail as soon as possible to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, requesting that Gerald Rodger Sorensen, State ID: 0120766, TDCJ ID: 00388789 not be granted parole now, or any time in the future, to prevent his pattern of violent crimes from continuing.
Correspondence should be sent to Angela McCown, director of Victim Services Division, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 8712 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 265, Austin 78711-6899. Telephone is 512-406-5900 and 800-848-4284 and faxes are 512-452-0825 and 512-452-1025. Testimonials can also be emailed to victim.svc@tdcj.state.tx.us.