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Myrickki McClendon

Other Child Sex Abuse Exonerations
Myrickki McClendon was convicted of the rape of a child less than fourteen years old.

The eight-year-old girl, known as S.S., said that near the end of September 2009, McClendon was staying with her at her home in Little Rock, Arkansas. She said that one morning, as she tried to get McClendon out of bed to make her breakfast, she accidentally touched his penis. She said he then put her hands behind her back, made her lie on her stomach, and sexually assaulted her.

McClendon, then thirty-three, was arrested November 23, 2009. His trial in Pulaski County Circuit Court began April 7, 2011. The girl identified McClendon and said that he “put his thing in my bottom and my front.”

After she had finished testifying, the girl left the courtroom. While she was in the hallway, bystanders overheard her say that she had lied in the courtroom and done what the adults had wanted her to do. She did not elaborate. The bystanders told court officials, and S.S. was recalled to the witness stand. But the judge would not allow McClendon’s attorney to vigorously question the girl about what she had said.

The trial continued, and McClendon was convicted by a jury the following day. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He appealed, asserting that his attorney should have been allowed to put the bystanders on the witness stand and to cross-examine S.S. about the inconsistencies in her testimony. The Arkansas Court of Appeals agreed and granted McClendon a new trial on September 12, 2012.

McClendon was released on bond July 15, 2013. There were substantial delays in his retrial, which began in January 2016. Prosecutors had agreed to refer to the first trial as a prior hearing, so as not to prejudice the jury. But while questioning a witness, a prosecutor used the phrase, “And that was a trial as well.” The defense moved for a mistrial. The prosecutor acknowledged the error but said it had been inadvertent and was not harmful. The judge granted a mistrial, but also stated that the prosecutor’s conduct had been unintentional.

Just after the mistrial was declared, the state took a DNA sample from S.S., who had moved out of Arkansas. It had not done this before, and the state said the testing was to forensically establish a connection between the girl and a pair of underwear that tests had shown contained McClendon’s sperm.

The third trial was to begin in June 2016. McClendon had filed a motion to dismiss, based on double jeopardy. In addition, McClendon argued that the prosecutor had purposefully mentioned the first trial in order to goad McClendon into requesting a mistrial, which would allow enough time to run the DNA test. That appeal was denied by the Arkansas Court of Appeals on May 10, 2017.

The DNA test would turn out to be inconclusive. After the appellate ruling, prosecutors never pressed for a retrial, and the charges were dismissed under Arkansas’s speedy trial rules on October 30, 2018.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 12/13/2018
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Sentence:25 years
Age at the date of reported crime:32
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes*