For the first time in history, testimony by closed circuit television was allowed in a Gila County jury trial and the result was the conviction of a 75-year-old Mesa del man accused of child molestation.
James Collins now faces a mandatory term of between 10 and 24 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections. His sentencing will be held Nov. 18 in Payson.
The jury of eight Gila County residents heard testimony for four days including that of the 5-year-old victim.
"Without the child's testimony, these cases are difficult to prove," said the case prosecutor, Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores, following the verdict. "However, in this matter, we were able to show to Judge James W. Hazel, Jr. that due to the child's young age, she would be unable to testify before the jury. Thus it was necessary to allow the child to testify by closed-circuit television."
As the child answered questions from Hazel's chambers, Flores said, her testimony was transmitted to the courtroom for the jury's viewing.
"This was the first time in Gila County that such evidence has been permitted, and it was crucial in securing a conviction of a man who is, or rather was, a danger to our community," Flores said. "Our victim and Payson will not have to worry about this child molester anymore."
Flores also praised the investigative efforts of two detectives from the Payson office of the Gila County Sheriff's Department.
"Detective Brian Havey did a thorough and professional job to bring this defendant to justice," the county attorney said. "He and Detective George Ratliff went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the jury would know the full facts of the crime."