Monday, November 24, 2014

Acquitted man says he won’t take plea deal, set for second trial in child sex case

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 7/26/2013

After an eight-day trial and nearly 24 hours of jury deliberations, Eric Scrutchfield, Ottawa, took a knee outside the closed West Courtroom doors and wept as he was overcome with emotion.

A Franklin County jury March 8 found Scrutchfield not guilty of rape and lewd and lascivious behavior in connection with an alleged sexual assault against a then 4-year-old girl sometime between March and May 2011 at Yvonne Scrutchfield Day Care Home, 607 N. Cedar St., an Ottawa day care business run by his wife.

After an eight-day trial and nearly 24 hours of jury deliberations, Eric Scrutchfield, Ottawa, took a knee outside the closed West Courtroom doors and wept as he was overcome with emotion.

A Franklin County jury March 8 found Scrutchfield not guilty of rape and lewd and lascivious behavior in connection with an alleged sexual assault against a then 4-year-old girl sometime between March and May 2011 at Yvonne Scrutchfield Day Care Home, 607 N. Cedar St., an Ottawa day care business run by his wife.

The jury of six men and six women, however, could not reach a verdict on the other two charges in connection with the case — aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated criminal sodomy — after 23 1/2 hours of deliberation. Scrutchfield faced life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years, on three of the four charges,

Now, Scrutchfield is prepared to go through the ordeal a second time, he said in an email Thursday evening.

Prosecutors plan to retry Scrutchfield on the two counts that ended with a hung jury. Scrutchfield cannot be retried on the rape and lewd and lascivious behavior charges in which he was found not guilty.

District Judge Eric W. Godderz, who presided over the first trial, has set Scrutchfield’s second trial to begin 9 a.m. Aug. 19. The trial is scheduled to last five days.

John Boyd, Ottawa defense attorney, also will return to represent Scrutchfield. The Douglas County District Attorney’s office filed the charges against Scrutchfield in June 2011 and was handling the case because of Scrutchfield’s previous employment with Franklin County as a computer support specialist. The Douglas County Attorney’s office will again serve as prosecutor.

Yvonne Scrutchfield’s day care was closed in late May 2011 by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment because of the allegations. The alleged victim’s mother also filed a civil suit against the Scrutchfields in late March, seeking $3.5 million in damages.

Prosecutors offered Scrutchfield a plea agreement after the first trial, he said.

“Like all the other pleas that they offered me, I turned this one down as well,” Scrutchfield said in the email.

Scrutchfield said he has rejected the prosecution’s attempts to reach a plea agreement because he is innocent on all charges.

Of the two hung charges, 11 jurors voted for acquittal, according to reports after the trial.

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