SHERIDAN — A 12-member jury took about three hours to return a guilty verdict in the sexual assault case of William A. Mayhew in 4th Judicial District court Wednesday.
By 6:10 p.m. on the third and final day of the 74-year-old’s trial, the jury agreed upon a guilty verdict to four counts of sexual assault in the third degree.
A mistake in the verdict sheet initially showed Mayhew as not guilty for the first count, but the jury’s appointed spokesman immediately spoke up and said the verdict sheet was incorrect. Presiding Judge John Fenn sent the jury back into deliberations to correct the error, and upon reading the four guilty verdicts, the court asked each jury member if the statement reflected his or her position on the case. All 12 replied the four convictions accurately reflected their decisions.
Defense attorney Erin Wardell began Wednesday’s session with her opening statement, which had been reserved for that time rather than the beginning of the trial.
Wardell reiterated the games, described as sexual in nature by the victims during their testimonies, were not actually sexual in nature, but simply fun games.
Kyle Smith, the defense’s lone witness, testified he had received photos of himself from Mayhew while he attended and Mayhew volunteered at Joy Junction Sunday school ministry in Sheridan.
Mayhew then took the stand to testify around 9:30 a.m. The initial testimony lasted until 11:30 a.m., with just a 15-minute break during that time.
Mayhew blatantly denied all allegations of sexual assault described during the victims’ testimonies Monday and Tuesday.
He recounted intricate details of the past, including his job history and occasions both surrounding and unrelated to the charges.
In cross-examination, Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney Darci Phillips walked Mayhew through his testimony from that day, emphasizing his sharp memory and specific details remembered about past events. She then countered the testimony with a recorded phone call played Tuesday, in which Mayhew told the victim he did not remember anything.
Mayhew told Sheridan Police Department officers during an interview at his home following the filing of charges in May 2017 that he did not have any recollection of the events alleged in the charges against him. During the recorded phone call with Mayhew, the victim and Keller, Mayhew repeatedly said he did not remember anything, and if he took a lie detector test, it would reveal the truth of his failing memory.
Phillips revealed in closing statements the connection of Mayhew grooming and manipulating victims to participate in games of a sexual nature. She reiterated his sharp memory in everything but the sexual allegations that he claimed not to remember.
Wardell reminded the jury Mayhew made no attempt to keep the games a secret and that the games he played with the victims, described by Mayhew during his testimony, were not sexual in nature.
Phillips responded saying the prosecution never alluded that Mayhew tried keeping the games a secret, but those games served as part of Mayhew’s commitment to deception.
Three randomly-chosen alternate female jurors were removed from the jury before starting deliberations, leaving seven male and five female jurors to decide the verdict.
The 12-member jury began deliberations after 3 p.m. and presented the final verdict at 6:10 p.m.
The court will schedule Mayhew’s sentencing for a later date. Mayhew’s bond was revoked, he was remanded into the custody of the Sheridan County Detention Center and was instructed to complete a presentence investigation between now and sentencing. Mayhew faces up to 15 years imprisonment for each count, totaling a maximum of 60 years.