TEXARKANA -- A man who molested an 8-year-old girl multiple times last year received a 60-year sentence Thursday as part of a plea bargain in Miller County.
Drew Curtis Bynum, 27, of Texarkana appeared with Assistant Public Defender Matt Stephens before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones in a courtroom at the Miller County jail complex Thursday morning. Jones began the hearing by asking Stephens and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kristian Robertson about a report detailing the results of a recently completed mental evaluation that deems Bynum competent and fit to proceed.
Both sides agreed to waive a competency hearing and move forward in the case in light of a negotiated plea bargain. Bynum was charged last year with three counts of rape and one count of second-degree sexual assault. As part of his plea bargain, the state agreed to reduce two of the rape counts to second-degree sexual assaults and dismiss the third charge of rape.
Robertson told the court there is some question as to whether the victim's testimony could sustain a charge of rape. Resolving Bynum's case with a plea agreement spares the victim, now 9, the trauma of testifying in court.
Bynum pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree sexual assault and accepted the maximum term of imprisonment -- 20 years -- possible for the offense under Arkansas law. The plea agreement includes a provision that the three 20-year terms will run consecutively for a total 60-year sentence.
All of the offenses occurred between March and June last year. The abuse was reported to the Miller County sheriff's office in June.
Bynum told investigator Patsy DeHart that he "messed up" and that he "fell in love with" the 8-year-old daughter of a woman with whom he was living "the first time he saw her," according to a probable-cause affidavit.
In addition to serving the 60-year prison term, Bynum must register as a sex offender upon release from prison and pay various court costs and fees. Bynum will remain in the Miller County jail until he is transported to the Arkansas Department of Correction.
State Desk on 01/25/2019