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Jury finds Stiles guilty on all 22 counts

Trial set for next month on federal charges, sentencing scheduled for May 6

Chester Stiles Trial

Justin M. Bowen

Chester Stiles awaits the verdict Tuesday afternoon in Clark County District Court. He was found guilty on all counts.

Updated Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | 7:27 p.m.

Chester Stiles Found Guilty

Chester Stiles awaits the verdict Tuesday afternoon in Clark County District Court. He was found guilty on all counts. Launch slideshow »

Emotion never crossed the face of Chester A. Stiles on Tuesday as the word "guilty" was read aloud 22 times.

He was convicted on 10 counts of lewdness with a child under the age of 14, 11 counts of sexual assault with a minor under 14, and one count of attempted sexual assault with a minor under 14 for sexually molesting two young girls in 2003.

He videotaped himself molesting one girl, who was 2 years old at the time. The other girl, then 6, testified in court last week in front of her abuser.

Prosecutors on Tuesday said the mothers of both victims are pleased with the verdicts. The names of the victims and family members involved in the case are being withheld because the Las Vegas Sun generally doesn't identify victims of sexual abuse.

The jury of nine men and three women got the case after six days of testimony in Clark County District Court. As expected, Stiles didn’t take the stand. His attorneys called no witnesses.

Stiles is staring at a lifetime behind bars. Sentencing is scheduled for May 8.

As the verdicts were read, Stiles, his hair slicked back and wearing a tan shirt, stared straight ahead. He stood when the courtroom was adjourned and placed his hands behind his back, although he wasn’t handcuffed before being escorted out of the courtroom.

Deputy District Attorney James Sweetin said he was satisfied with the verdict.

“I believe justice was done in this case,” he said. “It speaks for itself.”

Stiles' defense attorneys are planning to appeal.

"We are disappointed by guilty verdicts on all counts," public defender Stacey Roundtree said. "We filed numerous pre-trial motions and made numerous objections during the trial so we do feel that we have a number of issues on appeal."

Stiles also faces federal charges of producing child pornography, which could carry a sentence of 15 to 30 years in federal prison. That trial is set for April 6 in Las Vegas.

Jurors left the courtroom Tuesday as a group and declined to comment on the case to the media.

Deliberations began at about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday after closing arguments wrapped up Monday evening. Jurors deliberated about four hours and verdicts were read at about 2:30 p.m.

Prosecutors said they had seen few cases with clearer evidence and were confident the evidence and pretrial rulings could withstand any scrutiny they might receive on appeal.

Sweetin and his co-counsel, Deputy District Attorney Mary Kay Holthus, pointed out that Stiles never denied molesting either girl.

Sweetin echoed District Court Judge Jennifer P. Togliatti, who presided over the trial, when he said the videotape was child pornography in its clearest form. He and Holthus said it was a hard case for anybody to be a part of.

"Some cases need to be tried," Holthus said.

Stiles has been in custody since he was arrested during a routine traffic stop in Henderson in October 2007.

The first three charges against Stiles were tied to the girl who is now 11 years old and wasn't videotaped during the assault. Charges four through 22 are related to the 2-year-old girl on videotape. Her case prompted a national manhunt after the tape was found in the desert and police released images to identify the man and the girl.

Stiles had pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Stiles showed no emotion throughout the trial. He never testified, and spoke only once when he blurted out "it's all taken out of context" when Sweetin was going over letters Stiles had written to former girlfriend Susan Windrem.

His voice was heard in a jailhouse phone call made to a woman identified during testimony as Elaine Thomas.

"So, I kinda hold her a little responsible for the person I am, the negative ... you know, sexually twisted person that, you know, that some people think I am," he says about his mother. "You know, it's kinda easy to be that when you're, you know, treated like (expletive) garbage at such a young age.

"The things they said, the things that that videotape shows ain't nothin' compared to what I've, what I've had done to me, you know what I mean?"

The videotape was a key piece of evidence in the prosecution's case. Jurors watched it Friday evening in a courtroom that had been cleared except for court personnel and five reporters.

In the videotape, a man who witnesses and jurors identified as Stiles is seen performing sex acts on a 2-year-old girl. In the tape, he calls the girl by her name.

The tape was turned over to authorities by Darrin Tuck, then 26, of Pahrump. Prosecutors in closing arguments Monday said a DVD copy of the video found in Stiles' storage unit further linked the tape to Stiles.

Roundtree argued that the tape might have been technologically altered and raised questions about its origin. The jury, apparently, didn't buy it.

Sweetin said the two young girls have one "horrible" thing in common: Chester Stiles.

In letters and phone calls, Stiles referred to himself as a "monster" and, on several occasions, referenced being sexually abused as a child.

"Please! Please let all guilt die with me,” he wrote before signing his name to a letter.

He remains at the Clark County Detention Center.

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