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Jester guilty of rape, sexual assault

By Staff, 03/3/17 10:09 AM

7-26NC COURTROOM 002

PRESCOTT – A jury of six men and six women found Tim Jester guilty on one count of rape and three counts of sexual assault Thursday and will serve at least 18 years in prison.

The state and defense rested their cases Wednesday afternoon. Closing arguments were held first thing Thursday morning, with the jury being given its instructions by Circuit Judge Randy Wright. At the end of four days, Jester, who was charged with two counts of rape and three of sexual assault, was found guilty on one count of rape and all three sexual assault charges against four young girls.

Wright began the day by telling the jury all evidence had been submitted and it was their job to determine Jester’s guilt or innocence based on the facts provided during the trial. He told them they weren’t allowed to do any investigation on their own, reminding them of the presumption of innocence and saying all had to be sure of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He then explained what the charges were. In closing, he told the jury they weren’t to discuss punishment during their deliberation.

Eighth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Christi McQueen began her closing arguments, showing photos of the four girls Jester abused. She told the jury Jester engaged in deviant sexual activity with the victims, reminding the panel of the testimony of the four girls, all of whom were younger than 14 at the time of the assaults. “What he did was sick,” she said. “Those girls poured their hearts out on the stand. This is a no brainer.”

McQueen also went through the charges, one by one, reminding the jury of what Jester did and how one of the victims threw up on him after being assaulted. The girls, she told the jury, kept what happened to them secret until they could no longer remain silent about what they’d been through. “These are four good girls from four different families.”

Defense attorney Rowe Stayton, told the jury it had a “high responsibility” in this case and all of the jurors are involved in the judicial system now. “If you think he did it, convict him,” Stayton said, “but he didn’t do this. He’s innocent.”

Stayton provided a convoluted timeline of the events that occurred, pointing out the inconsistencies in the testimonies and accusations, saying at one time the only allegation was Jester touched a girl on the leg, which isn’t a criminal offense. He said the quartet was also interviewed at the same time by Child Services in Arkadelphia.

“There were no witnesses,” he said. “There is no physical evidence. Their statements changed when they were being prepared for trial. This is an unpleasant experience for both sides.”

Stayton reminded the jury of Jester’s testimony, saying he didn’t have to testify, and McQueen attacked him from all sides, yet he continually denied any wrongdoing. “Today is the day for reasonable doubt and finding him not guilty on all counts.”

McQueen said Jester wasn’t charged with touching a girl’s leg, admitting he told his wife he didn’t do anything to the girls. She reminded the jury of the girls’ ages at the time of the assaults, pointing out three of them were less than 12-years-old, and the fourth under 14. The girls, she said, had no idea about what to do, and couldn’t be expected to remember details the way adults would.

She pointed out the girls were innocent and didn’t realize what was happening to them at the time, but knew it was something they didn’t want to experience. McQueen agreed all four were counseled at the same time, stating they wanted to get past what they’d been through quickly and there were time constraints based on trial preparations. “There was no collusion,” she said. “They didn’t know their appointments were at the same time. They had no chance to get their stories together.

“Nothing is more important than protecting these girls. This horrible thing happened to these children. When you saw their tears, did it not tear your heart out.”

McQueen called Jester a pervert and pedophile, saying pedophiles don’t change and need to be removed from the streets. She said Jester had no problem committing some of these acts with his son in the same room and posited the question of what Jester may have done to his own child.

“This is serious. These girls are valuable. They’re the future. Show people what we do to sexual perverts in Nevada County.”

The jury began deliberating at 10:20 a.m., taking a few breaks and asking several questions. At 4:14 p.m. the jury returned with its verdict. Jester was found guilty on one charge of rape and three counts of sexual abuse.

Wright prepared the panel for the sentencing phase by telling the jurors the penalties for each of the crimes. Each count of sexual abuse, he said, carries a sentence of 5-20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $15,000. Rape, a class Y felony, in this case, carries a sentence of 25-40 years or life in prison because the victim was under the age of 14. In adult cases, the penalty is 10-40 years or life.

The jury was polled with each agreeing they had found Jester guilty. Wright told them the law, in the rape case, requires the person sentenced to serve 70 percent of their time before becoming eligible for parole. For sexual abuse, Jester, Wright said, could accrue “good time”. He would have to serve 1/3 of his sentence, but could serve as little as 1/6 with good time.

McQueen told the jury the main thing in this trial was the guilty verdict which will protect the community from a pedophile. She told the jury if Jester was given the minimum sentence for rape, 25 years, he would serve 17.5 years before being eligible for parole.

“He violated these children’s trust,” she said. “That is the worst kind of violence. The crime of what he stole from these victims. If you give him 40 years, he’ll have to serve 28.” McQueen said the jury also had the option of a life sentence, but she didn’t expect that in this case, though she would love it. “There’s nothing I’d love more than taking a pedophile off the streets in Nevada County forever. He’s attracted to young girls and pedophiles do not change.”

Turning to the sexual assault charges, she said with good time on a five-year sentence he could be eligible for parole in 10 months, while a sentence of 20 years would keep him behind bars for three years and four months with good time. “Is three years and four months too much for what he did to those three girls. Give him the absolute maximum for what he did.” She continued saying 40 years wasn’t too much a sentence for the rape charge, reminding the jurors Jester’s victims would never be the same and would never be able to have a loving, trusting relationship with a man.

The girls, she said, deserve Jester getting the maximum sentence. “They all deserve justice.”

Stayton told the jurors to consider all aspects of the case when deciding on punishment. “This has touched both sides.”

The jury went back in chambers at 4:40 p.m., returning with a verdict 15 minutes later.

In the end, Jester was sentenced to the minimums on all counts, 25 years for rape, and five years each for the three sexual assault charges. Wright sentenced Jester to serve the rape and one of the sexual assault charges consecutively, and the other charges concurrently. This means he will serve time for the rape and at the end of that sentence, serve time for the sexual assault.

Wright praised the jury for the job it did, saying he’d watched and noticed the diligence each gave during the trial. He told them he appreciated what they did in stepping up to serve the community. “Your lives will be affected by what happened today,” he said.

 

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