VERDICT REACHED

ELKINS – After deliberating for nearly two hours, a Randolph County jury found an Elkins man guilty of one felony count of conspiracy, but found him innocent on two felony counts of sexual assault in the third degree Thursday.

Following the reading of the verdict, Paul Grant Himes Jr., 30, of Elkins, was remanded into the custody of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department to be transported to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail. Senior Status Judge Thomas Steptoe said a post-trial bond would be considered at a later date.

During the one-day trial, Himes testified in his own defense, while the state called to the witness stand the victim, who was a 15-year-old girl at the time of the incident.

During her testimony, the victim said she had argued with her mother on March 23, 2012. When the victim’s mother attempted to punish her by taking her cell phone she left home, walked around town and decided to hang out with friends at Elkins City Park, the victim said.

She testified she then left the park and went to a party on 11th Street where she had “a glass of vodka.” She stated this was the first time she’d ever drank alcohol. She said she then left the party and returned to the park.

The victim said she then saw Himes in the park, who she knew because she was in a twirlettes group along with his daughter.

The victim testified she then played basketball at the park with Himes and his friend, who she later found out was Billy Isenhart.

Himes and Isenhart invited her to go on a walk and they crossed the street to the Davis & Elkins College campus, she testified.

Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Richard Shryock asked the victim, “When you got to the D&E campus, what happened?”

“We walked over to, like, where the stage is there on the front part of the campus and when we were over there Paul Himes started to unbutton himself and then he, like, grabbed me and motioned for me to give him oral sex,” she replied.

The victim said Himes then had intercourse with her.

Shryock asked if “at any point she told him to stop,” and “at any point did you tell him no?”

“I was too scared,” the victim replied.

She said Isenhart then also made her perform oral sex and had sexual intercourse with her.

The victim said she, Himes and Isenhart then walked to a nearby convenience store to get a soft drink, at which point she saw a friend she knew and left with him.

Himes’ defense attorney, Dwight Hall, cross-examined the victim, asking her if, when she returned home three days after the incident, her mother punished her.

“Did you receive any punishment for running away for three days?” Hall asked

“I had been raped, that seemed enough punishment for three days,” she replied.

Hall later called Himes to take the stand, asking if there was any sexual contact between him and the victim.

“Did you have sexual intercourse with (the victim)?” Hall asked.

“No,” Himes replied.

“Did she perform oral sex on you that day?” Hall asked.

“No,” Himes responded.

“Was there any sexual contact between the two of you?” Hall asked.

“No, sir,” Himes replied.

“Did you touch her in any sexual way?” Hall asked

“No, sir,” Himes said.

During testimony from Isenhart, who was required to testify as part of a plea agreement with the state, he said both he and Himes had sexual intercourse with the victim.

“What happened when you got over by the tennis courts at D&E?” Shryock asked.

“They sat over on the other side, I went around the podium and smoked a cigarette and ended up coming back around,” Isenhart said.

“What did you see when you came back around?” Shryock asked.

“They were kissing when I come back around,” Isenhart said.

“Did you see them doing anything else at some point?” Shryock asked.

“I think she was giving him (oral sex), yeah, that I seen.” Isenhart said.

“Did you see anything else that they were doing?” Shryock asked.

“I mean, I guess they were having sex while I was around the other side… I mean, I went around the bushes, I went to smoke a cigarette, I assume that’s what they were doing.” Isenhart said.

“After that, what happened next?” Shryock asked.

“We left and went to Lynn’s Gulf, she followed us to Lynn’s Gulf and left with her boyfriend,” Isenhart said.

“Isn’t it true, Billy, that after Paul Himes had oral sex and vaginal sex with (the victim) that you also had oral sex and vaginal sex with (the victim)?” Shryock asked.

“Yes,” Isenhart stated.

Isenhart previously pleaded guilty to third degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to serve up to 90 days in jail. He was given credit for time served in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail.

Testimony from both the victim and the victim’s mother indicated that when the victim returned home after three days she told her mother she had been raped and they went to the hospital.

Kim Jefferies, a sexual assault nurse examiner, testified she had administered care to the victim and swabbed her mouth and genitals. She stated she sent the swab samples, along with the underwear worn by the victim the night of the incident, to the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab.

Angela Gill, a forensic DNA analyst who was recognized by the court to testify as an expert in her field, said her lab received evidence from the incident. She said none of Himes’ DNA was found on the swabs or the underwear, but Isenhart’s DNA was found on the underwear.

During the closing statements, Shryock said a 27-year-old man having sex with a 15-year-old girl is not acceptable, whether it was consensual or not, and Himes should be found guilty.

“Sure, if you go to some countries it’s no problem for a 27-year-old man to have sex with a 15-year-old girl, go on over to Saudi Arabia and take a child bride, but in this country, in this state, it is against the law,” Shryock said. “Even if she consents, even if you believe that, hold the law, find the defendant guilty.”

Hall said during his closing statement the victim may have fabricated the story about being raped because she didn’t want her mother to be angry with her about running away from home.

“(The victim) concocted this story to save her own butt because she was in trouble with her mother so, all of a sudden, she ends up being the delinquent child,” Hall said. “After that, she becomes the victim and it diverts mom’s attention, obviously, from the fact that she was on runaway status.”

A post-trial hearing has been scheduled for Himes at 2 p.m. on Oct. 1. A sentencing date has not yet been set.