McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Police/Courts

January 17, 2014

Jury unable to reach verdict in child rape case

McALESTER — After almost eight hours of deliberation, a jury was unable to decide the fate of Cyndie Dee Jones.

A mistrial was declared at about half-past midnight Friday morning in the trial against Jones, according to documents filed at the Pittsburg County Courthouse. The hung jury stalled at a vote of nine to three, though they were not asked if they had voted for acquittal or conviction.

“We believe the jury did their best and worked hard to reach a verdict,” Blake Lynch, Jones’ co-counsel with Brecken Wagner, said Friday morning.

The case, tried before Associate District Judge James Bland, began Wednesday morning. Court records show the case is now set for a new jury trial on the March docket.

Jones, a resident of the Piney Creek area in northern Pittsburg County, was on trial for allegedly enabling child sexual abuse to occur on her property. The alleged crime occurred between August 2011 and April 2013, according to an affidavit filed at the Pittsburg County Courthouse. The child involved in the case is alleged to have had sexual relationships with two different men, Jimmy Culley and Robert Bond, both of Stigler, while Jones was “responsible for the health, safety and welfare” of the child, court records show.

The girl is now 15.

Culley, 47, has already been convicted of raping the juvenile and allegedly fathered a child with the girl. Bond has been charged with raping the juvenile in Haskell County, but has yet to stand trial. Those charges stem from Bond allegedly having a sexual relationship with the same juvenile while she was living near Stigler in Haskell County.

Court records show Bond’s preliminary hearing conference is currently set for February.

Closing arguments in the case were heard Thursday afternoon in Pittsburg County District Court. The state told Jones’ jury the most important testimony in the trial should be that of the juvenile herself.

“Was it consensual? Maybe,” said Assistant District 18 Attorney Adam Scharn, co-counsel for the state with First Assistant District 18 Attorney Danita Williams. “But the fact is she is not old enough to make that decision.”

Scharn said Jones reasonably should have known what was happening and reasonably should have stopped the abuse.

“She can’t just hide her head in the sand and say she had no idea,” Scharn said. “They were sleeping in the same bed. She reasonably should have known.”

Scharn asked the jury to bring the girl justice.

“It was 110 percent Jones’ fault all of this happened,” Scharn said. “She failed her on a fundamental level.”

Defense attorney Wagner told jurors Jones should be acquitted because she truly did not know the sexual relationships were occurring. He said blame should stand with the convicted Culley and the accused Bond.

Wagner also pointed out Williams was not only representing the state in Jones’ trial, but is set to prosecute Bond in Haskell County as well. He said he believes it was possible Bond was offering testimony in hopes of a plea deal, though Bond denied this when questioned by Wagner during the jury trial. Bond also denied he was testifying to avoid being charged with the alleged crime in Pittsburg County.

“I feel terrible. These two men not only took her childhood, they raped her over and over again,” Wagner said during closing arguments. “They took a little bit of her soul, a little bit of who she is. This little girl believed she was in a loving relationship with a middle-aged man when she was 13. That’s terrible, disgusting. This little girl was changed forever by these two subhuman creatures.”

Wagner said it was only natural for the jury to want to punish someone. He compared this feeling to a reflex. However, he said Jones should not be punished because she was not guilty of a crime.

“This is an extremely difficult task,” Wagner said. “That reflex is you want to punish somebody, but your job is to apply the law. You have to stop and do just that. If you apply the law, the case doesn’t work. As far as facts concerning my client’s knowledge of this, you have to look at what the state gave us. They gave us nothing.”

Contact Trevor Dunbar at tdunbar@mcalesternews.com.

 

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