Mistrial declared in Miller County rape trial


A mistrial was declared Thursday in a Miller County rape trial after a jury of eight men and four women could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Costello Byrd, 23, is accused of sexually assaulting a female relative while he was a teen and she was between the ages of 3 and 7.

Byrd was charged in 2014 after the then 10-year-old girl accused him of sexually assaulting her repeatedly in Byrd’s family’s Texarkana, Ark., home. The girl tesified Tuesday that she enjoyed spending time there as a young child and chose to sleep in Byrd’s room because she liked his bunk beds.

The girl alleged Byrd repeatedly assaulted her from ages 3 to 7.

Byrd and several other of his family members testified the bunk beds were taken apart in late 2007 and only the bottom, full-sized portion moved to a different room of the house where Byrd slept after his sister came to live in the home. Byrd denied ever touching the girl under questioning Thursday from Hot Springs, Ark., defense attorney Brent Miller, who represented Byrd along with Hot Springs attorney Joe Churchwell.

“I left clueles, just like I came,” Byrd said of his interview with Texarkana, Ark., police in 2014. “I never in my life have or ever would touch (the girl).”

Medical experts testified Wednesday and Thursday about a sexual assault examination performed on the girl in 2014. Nurse Practitioner Odia Russett said her findings included documentation of a linear area of discoloration which may or may not be consistent with the girl’s claims. Jack McCubbin, a retired gynecologist from Texarkana said the findings are inconclusive and testified that he could not say with certainty if the girl had been sexually abused following a review of Russett’s report and accompanying photographs.

“We cannot know for sure,” McCubbin said.

Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kristian Robertson argued that the testimony from the victim was enough for the jury to find Byrd guilty. The rape charge against Byrd remains pending.

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