Defendant Blurts Remark in Vegas Toddler Sex Trial

By: Ken Ritter AP
By: Ken Ritter AP

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The defendant in a child molestation trial received a warning from a Nevada judge Friday after protesting aloud about jailhouse letters entered as evidence in the case.

"It's all taken out of context," Chester Arthur Stiles blurted while a former girlfriend, Susan Windrem, read the letters in which Stiles acknowledged making "horrible decisions," but denied being "a predator."

Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti allowed Windrem to continue her testimony. Once the jury left the room, she warned Stiles he faced "ramifications" if he continued to disrupt the trial.

Stiles wrote Windrem from the Clark County jail in Las Vegas following his arrest in Henderson in October 2007. He told her he was "not justifying what I've done."

"When I came here I felt like I deserved whatever they gave me," the letter said. "But a few things have changed ... and I want another chance at life."

Stiles, 38, is accused of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl while he and a girlfriend spent two nights as guests at girl's Las Vegas home in December 2003.

He also is charged with sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl in a Las Vegas apartment sometime between April and August 2003. A videotape of the assault was found hidden in the desert about 60 miles west of Las Vegas and led to a nationwide manhunt for the man
and the child on the tape.

Jurors were expected to see the graphic 15-minute VHS on Friday afternoon. Togliatti has ruled that the video images will be shielded from the public when they are shown to 12 jurors and two alternates.

Also Friday, the jury heard an audiotape of an October 2007 jailhouse telephone call in which Stiles tells an unidentified woman he is aware of what the video showed.

"I, you know, can't deny what's on the video," he says. "And I'm not proud of it. But that's the facts. I'm sorry."

"I don't even know what to say, Chet," the woman responds.

"I don't either," Stiles says. "I'm just gonna sit back and take my medicine."

The 2-year-old girl, now 8, has not testified in the trial, which began Monday. Her mother testified Wednesday that she met Stiles "once, maybe twice" as the boyfriend of the mother of a friend whose apartment she shared from April to August 2003.

She was a 19-year-old single mother working two jobs at the time, and she used to leave her daughter at the apartment in the care of her friend, another young mother who stayed home to care for her baby boy. That woman's mother was another one of Stiles' several girlfriends.

Stiles faces multiple terms of life in prison if convicted of any of 21 charges of lewdness with a child under the age of 14 and sexual assault with a minor under 14. He also faces two to 20 years if convicted of a charge of attempted sexual assault with a minor under 14.

Prosecutor Jim Sweetin said the state planned to rest its case after showing the tape.

Stiles' attorneys have not said if Stiles will testify during the defense portion of the case. They lost bids to prevent the letters, audio and video from being entered as evidence.

But they have said they plan to challenge the authenticity of the videotape, which they maintain has been edited, and raise questions about the way it came into the hands of Nye County sheriff's deputies in September 2007 in Pahrump.

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