James N. Bynum was found guilty of Sexual Assault in the Second Degree Count I and Count II by a seven-man, five-woman jury during the early hours of Saturday, Nov. 2 in the Scott County Courtroom. Circuit Judge, Honorable Jerry Don Ramey, read the verdict to Bynum upon receipt from the jury foreman. The State, led by Prosecutor Marcus Vaden and assisted by Mark Johnson, denied a toll of the jury; however, Shannon Foster, Bynum’s attorney, requested the toll. Each juror stated openly in court their support of the guilty verdict.
Immediately after the verdict, the sentencing phase of the trial began. Both the prosecution and the defense called witnesses to testify to the jury.
The state called the 17-year-old victim from the Count II charge who was accompanied by the Count I victim. With a “Dear Dad” letter, the 17-year-old, expressed his previous love toward Bynum and thanked him for the years Bynum was in his life; but shared that through his (Bynum’s) actions, his life would never be the same.
Foster called to the stand Josh Bynum, son; Janet Bynum, wife; and Bynum’s youngest son. Each spoke to the jury of the man they knew as a loving and devoted father and husband and expressed their desire to continue to “stand behind the man you said was guilty.” Janet spoke to the jury asking for mercy to enable James to have time with his family and Josh pled with the jury to not have his dad “rot in jail.”
Closing arguments by both counsels were provided with the state breaking down the sentencing process for each time served as well as fines associated with the offense. Foster simply requested that the jury would take in consideration the age of James as well as his health conditions that have deteriorated since his incarceration in 2015.
Each offense carried a sentence of five to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and an option of a fine up to $15,000 per offense.
After a short deliberation, the jury brought forth the sentence of five years of jail/prison time for each offense, not to be served consecutively, and a fine of $2500. To date, James had 1,393 days of jail time credit. Additional fines included court costs of $150; booking/admin. fees of $20; DNA sample fee of $250; sex offender fee $250. administration fee $10; and warrant fee of $20.
Jury selection from the trial began at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29 and was competed by 4:30 p.m. of the same day.
The trial began with opening arguments by Vaden and Foster at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. Testimonies by the State were presented throughout Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Due to the delay of jury selection, Judge Ramey filed a continuance of the trial through Friday, Nov. 1.
Foster, assisted by attorney Deeanna Weimar, began to call their witnesses to the stand on Thursday, Oct. 31 through Friday, Nov. 1. James was the last witness on the stand prior to closing arguments. During the 2015 trial, James did not testify.
Due to the extended length of the trial, each counsel was limited to thirty minutes for closing arguments. The jury deliberated just after 9 p.m. and a verdict was given at 11:30 p.m. followed by the sentencing order and adjournment by Judge Ramey early Saturday morning.
Scott County Circuit Clerk Barbara Whitely filed the sentencing order in the Circuit Court of Scott County, 15th Judicial, District I Division Saturday, Nov. 2.
Bynum was informed of his Appellate Rights and a $75,000 cash appeal bond was set by the Court.