Man Gets 40 Years for Sexual Assault on 2 Year OldJanuary 26th, 2009 by Joe Burgess
Information contained in this report is taken from the Ashley County Ledger’s printed edition.Â It’s is included on MonticelloLive.com at the request of one of the victim’s grandparents.Â Both sets of grandparents live in the Monticello area.Â
An Ashley County Jury consisting of four men and eight women convicted Steven Wayne McDougald, 45, of kidnaping and second degree sexual assault in circuit court before Tenth Judicial District Circuit Judge Sam Pope, recently. Judge Pope imposed the jury’s recommended sentence of two 20 year sentences in the Arkansas Department of Correction to be served consecutively.”Justice was done,” deputy prosecutor David Cason said. “The jury worked hard, searched their hearts and levied a good penalty.”McDougald, sentenced Thursday as a habitual offender with four prior unrelated convictions, was charged in the March 30, 2008, kidnaping and assault of a two-year-old Ashley County resident.
The victim’s mother testified that on the date of the incident, she, her children and husband attended a friend’s cook-out. During the gathering, she stated McDougald asked her husband if he could take the toddler for a loop around the yard on a four-wheeler. Although the father agreed, McDougald left the area with the toddler without parental consent, and he was located in a wooded area an hour and a half later near a deer camp in the Fountain Hill area. She further testified that a number of calls were made to McDougald’s cell phone when she and her husband realized the two had left the area.
The child’s father testified that the first time he called McDougald was about thirty minutes after he allowed his child to ride the ATV with McDougald. In that call, he said, McDougald stated he was on his way back. However, when he did not return, a second call was placed with McDougald stating he was lost. He further testified that a third call to McDougald’s cell was not answered and that he, with assistance from the hostess’ father, searched the area on ATVs and found the two near a creek.
Law enforcement officers were contacted later that day after the child told her parents McDougald had touched her inappropriately. Det. Guy Hughes, chief investigator/captain with the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office, testified that the child’s clothing and oral swab samples taken from the toddler and McDougald, collected, packaged and sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab. Additional testimony presented by the state included three expert witnesses who conducted tests and analysis on the evidence collected by Hughes.
Stacie Wassell, a forensic examiner with the Arkansas state crime lab, testified that while no traces of blood or semen were found on the toddler’s clothing that she took three cuttings from the child’s panties that fluoresced beneath a laser light. Wassell explained that the light is used to identify the presence of otherwise unseen body fluids. Those samples, she stated were retained for further testing.
Jennifer Beaty, forensic DNA examiner with the state crime lab, testified that she received three cuttings taken by Wassell and that testing revealed the presence of a Y chromosome (females have two X chromosomes while males have one X and one Y chromosome). Beaty further stated that when the chromosome was compared to DNA taken from McDougald that he was not excluded.
In cross-examination by public defender Daren Nelson, Beaty testified that on average one in two randomly chosen males would be expected to be included while 51 percent of males would be excluded. Beaty further testified that the chromosome was more than likely left behind by skin cells. She also noted that the crime lab does not test for saliva and that sweat does not contain skin cells.
During redirect by Cason, Beaty said while no samples were found on the toddler’s outer clothing, the individual that left the chromosome evidence would have to have physical contact with the garment.
Chris Glaze, Codis DNA examiner with the crime lab, testified that he conducted separate tests focusing on the Y chromosome identified and extracted by Beaty. Using Codis, a Combined DNA Index System, he developed a profile on the chromosome and compared it to 3,561 samples in the Codis database and to McDougald’s. Glaze stated that McDougald matched in all 17 areas. He further testified that the results meant that it [the chromosome] was either that of McDougald or a paternal male relative.
In closing arguments Cason stated that although McDougald claimed he was lost that the only set of tracks found the following day by one of the state’s witnesses where those that led to the area where McDougald was found. “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck,” Cason said.
Nelson told jurors in closing that the victim’s clothing along with the oral swabs collected from the child and McDougald were placed in packages that were then compressed inside an envelope. “Maybe there is some contamination,” Nelson said.
Cason counter argued that if it was a case of contamination as suggested by the defense then there would be no question of it belonging to the defendant. Instead, he reminded jurors, Glaze testified that it was either the defendant’s or that of a paternal male relative.
The case was handed to jurors for deliberations at 3:47 p.m. with the guilty verdicts rendered half an hour later.”
Tell us [the community and county] what happens to a man that does that to a 2-year-old child,” Cason said before jurors went into deliberations to consider sentencing in the case.”Are we saying his life is so worthless we’ll throw him in jail and forget about him,” Nelson asked.Jurors deliberated 15 minutes before returning with the sentence recommendation. The sentence was then imposed by Judge Pope who denied an appeal bond in the case and ordered McDougald to the custody of the sheriff’s office. McDougald will remain in the custody of the sheriff until he is transferred to the Arkansas Department of Correction to begin serving his sentence.
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