Both sides rest in Miller County rape trial

Miller County Courthouse

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday morning in the trial of a man accused of three counts of rape involving a girl with whose family he lived during his pre-teen and teen years.

Quayvon Kentrell Peoples, 22, is accused of sexually assaulting the girl from the time she was age 6 or 7 and he was 13 or 14. The girl, now 14, testified Wednesday that she did not tell of the abuse for years because she was afraid of what would happen but that concern for her younger female siblings led her to text her mother about it during Labor Day weekend 2016 while her mother and father were out of town cleaning out the home of a relative who had recently died.

“It hurt,” the girl said as she described Peoples alleged abuse under questioning from Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell. “I didn’t know what to do.”

The girl said she was assaulted by Peoples in two homes her family shared in Texarkana, Ark.

The girl’s mother testified under questioning from Mitchell that Peoples came to live with her family when he was 11 and his own mother found herself unable to deal with his behavior. She said she treated him with more attention at times than her own children because she felt sorry for him.

The mother said Peoples continued to live with her until the allegations surfaced and that his girlfriend and infant daughter lived in her home as well. The mother denied that she encouraged her daughter to make the allegations.

Peoples’ defense attorney, Bart Craytor of Texarkana, asked the mother if she was upset that Peoples was moving out with his girlfriend and the baby to whom she’d become attached.

“You were angry at Quayvon weren’t you,” Craytor asked.

The mother cried.

“I’m hurt by Quayvon. I’m very hurt,” she answered.

Detective Bret Gatlin of the Texarkana, Ark., Police Dept. testified under questioning from Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kristian Robertson that he scheduled the alleged victim and her siblings for interviews at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Texarkana after being assigned the case. Gatlin said the girl gave an account of abuse that included sensory details indicative of an actual experience and that the girl’s older brother, who is now 17 and testified during the trial, told him he had walked into the bedroom he shared with Peoples and witnessed Peoples on top of his sister. Gatlin said that another man, Kendrick Mims, who is just a few months younger than Peoples and also taken in by the alleged victim’s family as a youth, told him that he and Peoples sexually abused the girl together. Mims has been charged with rape as well and charges remain pending against him.

The alleged victim’s 17-year-old brother testified that he looked up to Peoples, shared a room with him and didn’t know what to do when he allegedly saw him molesting his sister.

Under questioning from Craytor, the teen admitted he contacted Peoples after the allegations came to light and warned him that his parents knew. The teen said he also approached Craytor earlier in the case about testifying for the defense.

“I didn’t know what to feel. I didn’t know what to do,” the teen said.

Under questioning from Mitchell, the brother said he was telling the truth about what he’d witnessed and that he had felt torn about what to do in the past.

After the state rested its case, Craytor called Peoples to testify. Peoples claimed the girl’s mother was controlling and domineering and never satisfied with him.

“I am not a rapist,” Peoples testified.

Under cross examination from Mitchell, Peoples denied that he left the alleged victim’s family’s home the day after the allegations were made because he feared what would happen.

“Didn’t you leave because you found out (the victim’s mother and father) knew what you were doing,” Mitchell asked. “Didn’t you go running like a coward? You didn’t stay and say, ‘I need to talk to you because I don’t know what she’s talking about?'”

Mitchell questioned Peoples about his conduct upon being released from the Miller County jail on a $100,000 bailbond in the days after his arrest in May 2016. Peoples’ bond was revoked because he contacted the alleged victim’s brother in violation of a no contact order imposed by the court.

Miller County Circuit Judge Brent Haltom instructed the jury to return this morning to the Miller County courthouse to hear closing arguments in the case. Peoples is facing 25 to 40 years or life in prison on each count if convicted.

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