A Texarkana, Ark., man was sentenced to three consecutive 20-year prison terms Wednesday after being found guilty by a Miller County jury.
Michael Lee Sweeten, 53, was acquitted of one count of rape and one count of second-degree sexual assault but convicted of three counts of second-degree sexual assault by a jury of six men and six women. Sweeten’s accusers, sisters ages 19 and 15, testified that Sweeten abused them in his home on Garden Street in Texarkana, Ark.
The younger victim testified that she came forward in 2016 because she feared Sweeten might do to her youngest sister what he’d done to her. The younger victim’s outcry of abuse led her older sister to come forward. The younger victim said she was touched and made to touch Sweeten in a sexual manner in 2015 when she was 12 and 13. The older victim testified Sweeten was inappropriate with her in 2003 to 2004 when she was approximately 6.
Sweeten testified Tuesday under questioning from his defense attorney, Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, that he has not been capable of performing sexually since about 2002 when his health declined and he gained roughly 200 pounds. Sweeten denied that he was ever alone with the victims and testified that he is not comfortable around children.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Connie Mitchell and Kristian Robertson argued in closing remarks Wednesday morning that Sweeten lied about his physical abilities and questioned why Sweeten didn’t introduce medical records or expert testimony. The prosecutors argued that the victims provided sensory details about the abuse and had no reason to lie.
The jury sentenced Sweeten to a maximum 20-year sentence on each of the three counts of sexual abuse for which they convicted and recommended that Circuit Judge Brent Haltom order the term to run consecutively for a total of 60 years.
Sweeten, who had been free on bond, was taken into custody at the end of the trial Wednesday and is being held in the Miller County jail until he is transported to the Arkansas Department of Correction.