Local man gets 10 years for sex crime

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Junior Lee Evans, 59, of Berryville was found guilty Wednesday of three counts of second-degree sexual assault and received sentences of 10 years in the Department of Correction, and two 20-year suspended sentences, all running consecutively

The trial, conducted in Eureka Springs, moved fast compared to other recent trials, with the jury seated before noon, and a verdict and sentence handed down around 8:30 p.m.

Evans' attorney, Public Defender Rachel Runnels, stated Wednesday night that the case will probably be appealed. She described the sentence as 50 years for pinching the victim's buttocks.

While Evans, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Evans, testified that there was no opportunity for him to have done the acts at the time alleged, Deputy Prosecutor Joanna Taylor reminded the jury in closing arguments that Mrs. Evans had been aware of the 1989 incest incident and had not told anyone about it, thus casting doubt of her credibility.

The jury found that in May 2003 at a family barbecue, Lee pinched the buttocks of a 6-year-old niece while she was in the house and he was getting a drink of water, and that on two other occasions at the same three-hour get-together he rubbed her privates through her clothing.

Fifteen years ago, Evans pleaded guilty to incest and was placed on probation for 10 years. The victim in the 1989 incest case testified that the same type actions preceded the incest, Taylor said, and "in this case, the state intervened."

Runnels pleaded for mercy in sentencing, citing the health of Mrs. Evans, who suffers from a variety of disorders. The jury apparently took that plea in consideration when coming back with the 10-year prison sentence, in which he could be paroled after two and one-half years.

In any event, Evans would be under state supervision for 50 years.

In addition, Evans is to pay a $250 DNA detection fee and $150 in court costs, and register as a sex offender. He is allowed to remain free on a $20,000 transport bond until notified to report to prison.

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