A Miller County jury handed down sentences of 40 years and six years for rape and sexual indecency after finding a man guilty of sexually abusing an 18-year-old relative when he was a boy.
The jury of eight men and four women recommended that Michael David Lee Walker, 32, be ordered to serve the terms consecutively. Circuit Judge Carlton Jones agreed.
The victim testified he was 5 or 6 when Walker began molesting him on property in Doddridge, Ark., on Highway 267 where his immediate and extended family occupied mobile homes. The victim’s mother, brother, grandmother and aunt testfied on Walker’s behalf during the trial.
“Testifying cost him his family. His own brother threatened him with physical harm,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell argued in closing remarks. “But he did it anyway. Why would he come here and put himself through that if it were not true?”
The victim testified Tuesday that Walker threatened to kill him as a child if he told of the abuse which began when he was a young child and that his family has threatened to cut off all contact with him if he appeared in court and testified. It took less than an hour for the jury to return with two guilty verdicts.
During the punishment phase, the jury heard testimony concerning two pending cases involving female relatives of Walker’s who were allegedly abused sexually by him as children as well as testimony concerning seven prior felony convictions which are not related to sexual conduct.
Texarkana attorney Darren Anderson argued that the victim was angry at Walker for punching him in the face and told the jury his inability to “look them in the eye” during his testimony was a “tell tale sign” of lying.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kristian Robertson asked the jury to put themselves in the victim’s place.
“What if I asked any of you to get up here and talk about your first sexual experience,” Robertson asked. “And then what if that sexual experience was with your (relative). How hard would that be?”
During his testimony Tuesday, the victim spoke softly and often stared at the floor.
“I’m here to look you in the eye on behalf of (the victim),” Robertson said. “On behalf of a kid who can’t speak for himself.”
During the punishment phase of trial, Walker took the stand. He did not testify during the guilt or innocence phase.
“I just want to be a part of my daughter’s life. I want to put my family back together after all of this,” Walker said under questioning from Anderson.
Robertson asked Walker about the many phone calls to the victim he made while being held in the Miller County jail.
“You told him not to come testify,” Robertson said. “You never said, ‘just tell the truth’ because he was telling the truth, wasn’t he?”
Walker asked the jury for mercy.
The pending cases involving the female relatives of Walker’s are scheduled for pretrial hearings next month. Walker must serve 70 percent of his 40-year sentence on the rape charge before he can be considered for parole.