Several jurors dabbed their eyes with tissues in a hushed courtroom late Friday as they watched a video showing the defendant, Chester Arthur Stiles, whisper to a 2-year-old while he repositioned her on a bed for various sex acts.
"Do you like that? Does it feel good?" Stiles asks the girl near the end of the 15-minute video, which the judge deemed so disturbing that she closed the courtroom to all but a few news reporters, security officers and court officials during the viewing.
Clark County District Judge Jennifer Togliatti also banned cameras, cell phones and recorders after granting access to five reporters who filed written applications to watch what she called
- outside the jury's presence - "as graphic a child pornography video that anyone has ever observed."
Stiles, 38, kept his eyes on notes he wrote on a yellow legal pad and passed to one of his two defense lawyers while jurors watched the video.
He 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.
One juror, sitting directly in front of the flat-screen monitor, closed his eyes several times and clutched a tissue in his clenched fist against the bridge of his nose. He stared down into the jury box for several moments after the video ended.
No one spoke. As the nine men and five women filed solemnly out of the courtroom afterward, one middle-aged man glanced toward Stiles sitting at the defendant's table. The other 13 kept their eyes fixed straight ahead.
"Everything builds up to the video," prosecutor Jim Sweetin said of the VHS tape, which prosecutors say Stiles filmed with the girl in a Las Vegas apartment sometime between April and August 2003.
Stiles also is accused of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl while he and a girlfriend spent two nights as guests at the girl's Las Vegas home in December 2003. That girl, now 11 and living in Washington state, testified Monday.
The video is the crucial piece of evidence that Stiles allegedly committed 19 felonious acts on the toddler, now 8. She has not testified. Her mother told the jury Wednesday the child has no recollection of the taped encounter with Stiles.
The video surfaced in September 2007 when an ex-convict and admitted methampetamine user turned it in to Nye County sheriff's deputies in Pahrump, saying he found it in the desert about 60 miles west of Las Vegas.