State rests in Miller County rape trial

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Miller County prosecutors rested the state’s case Tuesday evening in the trial of a Fouke, Ark., man accused of molesting an 11-year-old girl.

Wednesday morning the jury seated to decide the case against Larry Zane Neff Jr., 50, is expected to begin hearing testimony from witnesses for the defense. Neff lived with and later married a relative the girl began living with at age 4 following the death of her biological mother.

The girl testified that she was 11 when Neff began showing her a video of a woman licking a banana and molesting her. The girl alleged Neff assaulted her with his hands and forced her to engage in other sexual activity, under questioning from Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell. Neff’s attorney, Tommy Potter of Texarkana, did not cross examine the alleged victim.

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An aunt of the girl’s testified that she was awakened by her daughter at about 3 a.m. Oct. 28, 2018. The aunt said her daughter gave her a handwritten note from the alleged victim who was spending the night. The note, which was shown to the jury, accuses Neff of sexual abuse and asks for the aunt’s help.

The aunt testified that she called the Miller County Sheriff’s Office that morning and turned the note over to the responding deputy.

Investigator Patsy DeHart testified that she was present when a search was conducted of Neff’s home Nov. 1, 2018. Photos of a wooden paddle Neff allegedly used to discipline the alleged victim and photos of numerous pieces and types of computer equipment, digital storage media and cell phones collected during the search were shown as MCSO Cpl. Chris Spear testified.

DeHart said Neff had left the home prior to the search with a laptop and cell phone in his possession which were turned over after Neff’s arrest Nov. 5, 2018.

Arkansas State Police Special Agent Corwin Battle testified under questioning from Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kristian Robertson that he did not find evidence of pornography on the seized equipment. Battle said it is possible that a video could be stored on a device, such as a flash drive, and played on the computer without leaving explicit evidence of its content.

A Children’s Advocacy Center forensic interviewer who met with the alleged victim testified for the state Tuesday as well.

If found guilty of rape, Neff faces 10 to 40 years or life in prison. Neff is also facing a charge of second-degree sexual assault which is punishable by five to 20 years in prison. Neff is free on a $50,000 bond.

Circuit Judge Carlton Jones is presiding.

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