From the desk of Parker County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain:
Five convictions, three life sentences, and two 20 year prison sentences a Parker County jury handed down to a 62 year-old Houston man accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in a 2013 trial were affirmed on appeal in an opinion handed down late last week.
In the trial, jurors convicted Stephen Scott Mayfield of three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, one count of sexual performance by a child, and one count of indecency with a child, all of which occurred in September, 2011. Jurors sentenced Mayfield to three life sentences for the aggravated sexual assault offenses, 20 years each for the other two crimes, and fines of $10,000 for all five charges.
“The big issue on appeal was whether a competency evaluation needed to be performed mid-trial when Mr. Mayfield attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on medications, causing him to miss the remainder of the trial,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain. “Under Texas law, a person must be competent in order to stand trial and at all stages during the trial.”
The Amarillo Court of Appeals determined that, while an evaluation should have been done, based on subsequent evaluations, Mayfield’s “absence from trial did not result from lack of competence to stand trial but was instead [his] voluntary and intentional act. When a defendant voluntarily absents himself after pleading to the indictment, or after the jury has been selected, the trial may proceed to conclusion.”
“We’re glad that the strong message that our Parker County jurors sent to child abusers in this case will stand,” said Assistant District Attorney Nikki Rhodes, who tried the case with former Assistant District Attorney Robert DuBoise
During the trial, Parker County Sheriff’s Investigator Robert Pawley testified that the case began in September of 2011, when the victim’s mother received a digital image on her cell phone from a concerned family friend that showed the victim sitting in the lap of Mayfield, both of whom were naked. Pawley told jurors that after interviewing the girl, he obtained an arrest warrant for Mayfield and requested that the United States Marshal’s Service in Houston go to his Houston home and arrest Mayfield.
An evaluation of Mayfield’s cell phone seized during his subsequent arrest yielded multiple photos of Mayfield and the victim engaged in sexual conduct.
The victim, who was 15 years old at the time of trial, told jurors about her molestation and identified herself and Mayfield in the pictures that were found on Mayfield’s phone.
“Prior to this case, I had never had a jury trial during which the defendant was not present,” Rhodes said. “It was an unusual dynamic during closing argument to not be able to turn and talk directly to and about the person accused of some really horrible things.”
During the punishment phase, a female adult relative of Mayfield testified that, when she was approximately twelve-years-old, Mayfield committed multiple acts of sexual abuse against her.
“Mr. Mayfield could still appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, our state’s highest criminal appellate court,” said Assistant District Attorney Eddy Lewallen, who handled the appeal for the prosecution. “However, that review is discretionary with the high court. If they want to accept the case, they can, but they do not have to do so. If they choose not to hear his appeal, Mr. Mayfield’s only recourse would be to appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which also has the discretion to pick and choose their cases.”
Mayfield will not be eligible for parole until the year 2043, Swain said.