Crime

Hung jury in Hancock County man's sexual battery trial

By WESLEY MULLER

wmuller@sunherald.com

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Poyadou
Poyadou

BAY ST. LOUIS — The trial for a Hancock County man accused of sodomizing a child ended in a hung jury Thursday.

Hancock County Circuit Judge Chris Schmidt ended proceedings by declaring a mistrial after jurors sent him a note saying they could not decide on a verdict in the sexual battery case against Keith Poyadou, 21. The jury deliberated about four hours before clearing the Bay St. Louis courthouse by 6 p.m.

Poyadou, who was 17 at the time, is accused of sexually assaulting his then-9-year-old cousin June 21, 2012 at a family member's home in Hancock County. Other family members were at the home but none testified to seeing the alleged assault.

The girl, who is now 13, was the first to take the stand, though the courtroom was sealed during her testimony.

She said she told her grandmother she'd been assaulted.

Jurors heard from her grandmother, as well as a Hancock County sheriff's investigator, a forensic interviewer and emergency room staff from Hancock County Medical Center.

The investigator, recounting the girl's initial report, said Poyadou pulled her into her sister's bedroom, put his hand over her mouth and sodomized her.

Heather Windham, the ER nurse who processed the rape kit, said the girl arrived by ambulance about 1 a.m. June 22, 2012.

"She was afraid, tearful," Windham said. "She said, 'If I ever told anybody, he'd cut my throat.'"

The ER doctor who examined the girl testified she showed signs of having been recently sexually assaulted.

Jurors also watched a video of the forensic interview, which showed the girl giving a detailed account of the assault.

"We're here because I was raped yesterday," she said matter-of-factly. "I tried screaming for help, but he held me. He held my mouth closed . He said, 'Don't tell anybody or I'll slit your throat.'"

Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel said he plans to retry the case and will schedule a new trial date in the "near future."

Neither Daniel nor Poyadou's attorney, Jim Davis, would speculate on reasons for the hung jury.

"Mr. Poyadou looks forward to his next day in court, as I'm sure the district attorney's office does too," Davis said.

After his arrest in 2012, Poyadou spent a few weeks in jail before posting a $100,000 bond. He has been free on bond since then.

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