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2011-03-10

Sorensen denied parole for '84 rape & murder

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

For now at least, convicted murderer Gerald Rodger Sorensen will remain confined in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
According to a Feb. 16 letter sent to local attorney Billy Walker, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied parole to Sorensen, a former resident of Bandera County. In 1984, he was convicted of the rape and murder of Walker's sister.
The TDCJ routinely notifies affected parties when inmates are scheduled for parole review. Consequently, last June, the Bandera County Courier published an article requesting assistance from concerned residents of Wharton's Dock, and friends and relatives of the late Marie Denise Walker, as well as the general public, to ensure that Sorensen remained incarcerated.
On Jan. 31, 1984, after forcing his way into the Bandera County home of Marie Denise Walker, Sorensen raped and killed the popular 36-year-old school teacher. Medical records indicated she had been raped repeatedly, both pre- and postmortem. Additionally, the crime occurred just months after Sorensen's early release from the TDCJ after serving time for a 1963 conviction in Bexar County for rape and sodomy.
While investigating the murder, law enforcement officers discovered that Sorensen had stalked Walker prior to attacking and killing her. The evidence included a well-worn path leading from Sorensen's residence in Lake Medina Shores where he was staying with relatives to Walker's home where she lived alone on her parents' ranch. Investigators felt Sorensen had been shadowing Walker since being released from the penitentiary.
After being convicted by separate juries in Bandera and Gillespie counties, Sorensen was sentenced to two concurrent 99-year terms for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon and murder in the course of a rape.
At the time of the conviction, the option of imposing a sentence of "life without possibility of parole" had not yet been enacted in Texas. Because Sorensen had used a deadly weapon during the crime, he was required to serve 20 years "flat time" before being eligible for parole, according to a TDCJ spokesman.
Meanwhile, Walker and other friends and relatives of his late sister remain vigilant, periodically asking for help to prevent Sorensen's release and the possible re-occurrence of his violent crimes in Bandera County.
His next approximate parole review date will be January 2014. According to the latest information, Sorensen is incarcerated in the Telford Unit, located in New Boston in Bowie County.