Sheridan Media – (Weds)
“A district court jury found William Mayhew guilty on four counts of sexual assault in the third degree Wednesday night after about an hour and a half of deliberation.
The verdict came after three days of trial in the court of District Judge John Fenn. No sentencing date has been scheduled at this time. The victims were all from within the Sheridan community.
One of the victims did not testify as originally scheduled, but witnesses for the prosecution included community religious leader Terral Bearden, three victims, Sgt. Dan Keller who is a detective with the Sheridan police department, the father of one of the victims, previous Joy Junction Children’s Church Director Karl Hunt and a special agent with the state Division of Criminal Investigation.
According to Nickie Arney, clerk of district court, the case went to the jury at about 4 p.m.”
“William Mayhew’s five-day trial will finish two days earlier than anticipated after the state finished its presentation of evidence Tuesday.
Mayhew faces four counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.
Because one of the victims did not testify as originally scheduled, defense attorney Erin Wardell asked the court to defer the fourth count on the grounds the state did not bear the burden of proof for that particular victim. The court granted the deference of the fourth charge against Mayhew. The other three counts represented incidents for two individual victims, one that spanned through years in which the law changed, therefore causing two separate charges.
Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney Darci Phillips brought community religious leader Terral Bearden, three victims, Sheridan Police Department and Sgt. Detective Dan Keller, a victim’s father, previous Joy Junction Children’s Church director Karl Hunt and a Division of Criminal Investigation special agent, to the stand for testimony.
Bearden, who held an intervention with Mayhew concerning the incidents, briefly shared his interaction with Mayhew and told the court he offered as much help to Mayhew as possible for the situation.
Two of the victims shared memories of games played as young children with the defendant that were sexual in nature.
A third victim and the victim’s father pieced together an incident with Mayhew while the victim was visiting the defendant at his residence in Sheridan.
The incident immediately involved law enforcement, but no action was taken at that time.
Keller, who served as the lead detective on the case, recounted his interview with Mayhew after the victims reported the crimes against him. Keller and SPD Lt. Tom Ringley interviewed the defendant at his home in Sheridan. Mayhew told the officers he did not have any recollection of the events alleged in the charges against him. During a recorded phone call with Mayhew, the victim and Keller, Mayhew repeatedly said he did not remember anything, and if he took a lie detector test, it would reveal the truth of his failing memory.
Hunt confirmed Mayhew’s past work with Joy Junction and explained in the defense’s cross-examination that adults in care of the children attending Joy Junction, a Sunday morning ministry for children, were not given specific instructions. Volunteers, however, could not be alone with children and the director said Joy Junction discouraged adults from getting too close to the children.
The final witness for the prosecution works specifically for the Internet Crimes Against Children division for DCI. The agent found 24 child exploitive photographs on technology obtained from Mayhew by SPD. Phillips presented nine photos and six videos as evidence for the court and jury. While the testimony from the agent and Hunt provided background on Mayhew, both testimonies fell under the 404b evidence rule, where the facts presented cannot be used to determine whether the charged acts took place.
Before viewing the exploitive photos and videos of children during the agent’s testimony, Judge John Fenn instructed jury members to notify the bailiff during the next break if they recognized any of the children in the photos and the jury member would join the judge and counsel in chambers to discuss whether it would interfere with their ability to act as a non-partial juror. For this reason and also for the nature of the charges in the case, counsel selected 15 jurors, rather than more common 13 jurors.
It was undecided whether Mayhew would testify on the third and final day of his trial hearing. Defense counsel began proceedings Wednesday morning with plans to reach closing statements and jury deliberations after taking an early lunch break.”