Accused man waives hearing, is bound for trial in video-sex case
LAS VEGAS – A Nevada man accused of raping a little girl on a videotape found in the desert waived an evidentiary hearing Wednesday and was bound over for trial in state court.
Chester Arthur Stiles surprised everyone, including his lawyer and the mother of one alleged victim, when he agreed not to make prosecutors present evidence and have witnesses testify at a preliminary hearing.
“She broke into tears of relief, she was that relieved,” said Jerry Donohue, lawyer for the mother, who has not spoken publicly about the case. “She was dreading having to testify. She really didn’t want to.”
Public Defender Stacey Roundtree told Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis that there was no plea deal on the table. Roundtree said outside court that waiving the preliminary hearing was Stiles’ idea.
“He doesn’t want to put any of the witnesses or victims through anything unnecessary at this point,” Roundtree said. “He understands he’ll have his day in court later.”
Stiles is accused of sexually assaulting one girl before she turned 3 in September 2003, and another girl, then 6, in December 2003. Authorities say the videotape is of the first attack.
Stiles became the focus of a nationwide manhunt after a Pahrump man turned the tape over to Nye County sheriff’s investigators and told them he found it in the desert. Nye County authorities released images from the videotape to the media and pleaded for the public’s help to find the girl and the man on it.
The girl, now 7, was found Sept. 28 in Las Vegas. Stiles was arrested Oct. 15 after a routine traffic stop in Henderson.
He said little in court Wednesday as he stood in blue jail scrubs and orange sandals with his hands shackled to a chain belt. He answered “Yes, ma’am,” when Lippis asked if he understood the ramifications of waiving his preliminary hearing.
At prosecutor Mary Kay Holthus’ request, the judge dropped one felony charge of use of a minor in producing pornography, and scheduled Stiles for arraignment Dec. 20 in state court on 22 remaining charges. Stiles, 37, is being held in isolation without bail at the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas.
The charges against him, including lewdness with a child under 14, sexual assault with a child under 14 and attempted sexual assault with a child under 14, could result in multiple terms of life in prison.
The Associated Press is withholding the name of the mother of girl who appears in the video to protect the identity of her daughter, because she is a suspected victim of sexual abuse.
Donohue said the woman was prepared to testify, even though she has not been feeling well after having a baby in late November.
“She knows she has to,” Donohue said, “but she wants to keep the identity of her child a secret as long as possible.”
Donohue has said the girl has no memory of the acts depicted on the video. Stiles has been described as a passing acquaintance of the mother, who recognized the scene of the attack as an apartment they moved from before the girl’s third birthday.
The man who turned the tape over to Nye County sheriff’s investigators and told them he found it is due for trial Feb. 19 in Pahrump on a felony charge of possession of child pornography.
Darrin Tuck, 27, of Pahrump has pleaded not guilty to the charge, which carries a possible penalty of one to six years in state prison.
Tuck remains jailed in Pahrump, serving a five-month sentence for violating probation by failing to pay child support. Authorities have not linked him to Stiles.
Pahrump is a Nye County town about 60 miles from Las Vegas.