— By CHRISTIN COYNE
When a girl sexually assaulted by a relative as a young teen showed up to court this week to testify, and her abuser didn’t, a Parker County jury Wednesday found the man guilty, giving him life in prison.
During his absence from court, Stephen Scott Mayfield, 58, of Houston, was convicted of three aggravated sexual assaults of a child, one case of indecency with a child and one case of sexual performance by a child.
According to testimony presented to jurors during the trial, the victim’s mother received a photo on her cell phone from a concerned family friend in September 2011 showing the girl sitting on Mayfield’s lap, both naked.
After an interview of the victim, Parker County Sheriff’s Investigator Robert Pawley obtained an arrest warrant for the Houston man, who reportedly consented to a search of his home at the time of his November 2011 arrest.
Investigators seized Mayfield’s cell phone and tablet computer as evidence, later finding multiple photos of Mayfield and the victim engaged in sexual conduct.
The girl, now 15, also took the stand during the trial, telling jurors that she and Mayfield were the people pictured on Mayfield’s phone and telling jurors about the molestation in September 2011.
The jury quickly found Mayfield guilty Tuesday, according to the Parker County District Attorney’s Office.
Another relative of Mayfield, now an adult, also reportedly testified that Mayfield sexually abused her multiple times when she was around the age of 12.
After less than 30 minutes of deliberation Wednesday, the jury gave Mayfield sentences of life on the three first-degree felonies and the maximum-allowed 20 years for each of the indecency and sexual performance cases. Jurors also assessed the maximum $10,000 fine in each conviction.
“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 prosecuted the case along with Assistant District Attorney Nikki Rhodes.
Though he showed up for jury selection Friday and during the first day of testimony Monday, Mayfield failed to appear Tuesday morning.
Allowing the trial to continue, 415th District Court Judge Graham Quisenberry found that Mayfield’s absence was voluntary and intentional.
“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.”
Mayfield had been located and was in custody Wednesday afternoon, according to DuBoise.
Mayfield will not be eligible for parole until 2043, according to the Parker County District Attorney’s Office.