A jury sentenced a 58 year-old Houston man to life in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Parker County girl in a trial that concluded on Dec. 18 in district court in Weatherford.
On Dec. 17, after deliberating about 20 minutes, 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.
"These five maximum sentences demonstrate that the citizens of Parker County will strongly punish child abusers and those who would exploit our children," said Assistant District Attorney Robert DuBoise, who tried the case for the prosecution with Assistant District Attorney Nikki Rhodes.
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.
United States Deputy Marshal Cameron Welch explained to jurors that when he arrested Mayfield at his house on Nov. 1, 2011, Mayfield consented to a search of his home. During the search, he seized a cellular telephone and a tablet computer as evidence. Special Agent Jeff Shaffer of the United States Secret Service testified that a forensic examination of the cellular phone yielded multiple photos of Mayfield and the victim engaged in sexual conduct.
The victim, now 15, told jurors about her molestation and identified herself and Mayfield in the pictures that were found on Mayfield's cellular phone.
In an unusual twist, after appearing for jury selection Dec. 13 and on Dec. 16 for the first day of testimony, Mayfield failed to appear for court proceedings on Dec. 17. The court, after finding that Mayfield's absence was voluntary and intentional, continued the case in his absence.
"I have 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 12 years old, Mayfield committed multiple acts of sexual abuse against her in Houston.
According to Parker County District Attorney Don Schnebly, under Texas law, Mayfield will not be eligible for parole until the year 2043.