WALLER, Texas – A 23-year-old Waller man accused of killing his entire family back in March pleaded guilty Thursday to capital murder.
Trey Sesler was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or appeal.
On March 20, 2012, Sesler shot and killed his father Lawton, mother Rhonda and brother Mark at the family’s home in Waller.
Sesler was arrested later that evening at a friend’s house near Magnolia.
In a tearful jailhouse interview two days later, investigators said Sesler confessed to the murders, saying he was planning a Columbine-style mass shooting and had to kill his family first so they wouldn’t be ashamed of him.
The crime sent shockwaves through the community, where people knew the Seslers as a loving family.
Coworkers at The Waller Times, where Rhonda Sesler worked for six years, said they had no idea there were problems in the home.
Lawton Sesler was a fifth-grade teacher in Cy-Fair ISD. Investigators said there was some tension between Trey and his father prior to the murders, but nothing out of the ordinary.
“He had certainly had issues in the past with his father … He’s a 22-year-old living at home, doesn’t have a real job and things like that – basics that can cause family conflicts,” Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith said, back in April.
But a darker side of Trey Sesler’s personality – though perhaps unknown to some in the community – was visible in videos he posted to YouTube.
Sesler, who frequently posted critiques of anime, also made videos of himself shooting weapons and posing with pets – creatures investigators said he sometimes shot for practice.
“It’s a classic example that we’ve seen in our past, in our careers and training – he started as a young person killing pets and some of his own animals that were given to him. He progressed to being able to get weapons and started shooting at buildings. Then he started setting a few fires. It’s a progression that, unfortunately, we’ve seen,” Smith said.
Investigators said after Sesler’s arrest, they found at least six weapons and a considerable amount of ammunition that the young man had stockpiled at his grandmother’s home in Hempstead and his parents’ house in Waller.
“We prevented something horrific from possibly happening. I think I can say that with pretty high confidence,” Waller Police Chief Phil Rehak said shortly after Sesler was arrested.
After the sentence was announced Thursday, family members were allowed to give statements about their thoughts on the crime , the effects Sesler’s actions had on them and the community, and their hope that he could get the treatment they felt he needed while in prison.
News of Sesler’s plea agreement spread quickly in Waller.
At the Waller Barbershop on Main Street Friday, there was a sense of innocence lost.
“When we were growing up, we could live in our homes with the windows up,” said barber Robert Martinez. “I don’t understand. If that doesn’t constitute the death penalty, what does?”
Chief Rehak acknowledged that some might not be satisfied with the sentence, but said he thought it should bring some sort of closure.
“Four months after this horrific incident occurred, we’ve got what’s the closest possible thing to closure I think we could attain,” said Rehak. “Is there justice in a case like this? I don’t know.” Waller County DA Elton Mathis Jr. applauded the efforts of law enforcement to bring the trial to a conclusion quickly.
“In my six years as District Attorney I have never seen law enforcement come together and work toward a common goal like they did the week following the Sesler murders,” Mathis said in a statement released to the media Friday, commending the efforts of everyone involved in Sesler’s prosecution.