McClendon convicted of rape, sentenced to life in prison

It took a Jefferson County jury of eight women and four men about 20 minutes Wednesday to convict Edmond McClinton Jr., of raping a then-16-year-old girl in December 2011.

Because of three previous convictions for violent felonies, two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of first-degree murder in 1995, Circuit Judge Berlin Jones sentenced McClendon as a habitual offender to life in prison.

McClinton was charged with “engaging in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with another person who was incapable of consent because she was physically helpless or mentally defective.”

According to trial testimony, the girl has cerebral palsy, is mentally defective and physically helpless and incapable of consent.

McClinton was arrested shortly after the incident was reported on Dec. 13, 2011. According to a probable-cause affidavit from Detective Michael Roberts of the Pine Bluff Police Department, the victim’s sister said she heard a noise coming from the victim’s bedroom, looked in and saw McClinton having sex with the girl.

When McClinton was interviewed at the scene and later by Roberts, he denied having sex with the girl, saying he had only gone into her room to check the security of the windows.

Formal charges were filed against McClinton on Feb. 10, 2012.

Testifying during the trial, Janice Wilkes, who is the girl’s teacher at Jenkins, said the girl has attended Jenkins her entire life and has a “severe, profound disability.”

Wilkes told Deputy Prosecutor Karres Manning the girl cannot speak, read, write or spell and does not know colors, letters, numbers or body parts.

In addition, Wilkes said the girl “doesn’t understand sex or the consequences of sex, has no personal boundaries and would not know if those boundaries had been violated.”

Wilkes also said the girl, who is non-verbal, “functions at the level of a 5-year-old at best, but lower in most areas.”

Manning and Deputy Prosecutor Cymber Gieringer represented the state during the trial, which began Tuesday.

After the incident, the girl was taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center where a rape kit was obtained and sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory at Little Rock for analysis.

Lisa Channell from the Crime Lab testified that semen and sperm were identified on vaginal and rectal swabs and on underwear collected from the victim. Callie Wells, also from the Crime Lab, testified that DNA recovered on the vaginal swabs was consistent with both the victim and McClendon.

McClendon was represented by attorneys Rebekah Kennedy and Robert Cortinez Jr. of the Public Defender’s Office.