By JOSH NEWTON
Jurors on Wednesday found a Tahlequah man guilty of having sex with his adopted 16-year-old daughter, the second time a panel has done so in a year.
Members of the jury, 11 women and one man, recommended Stacey Garrett Begay serve a 37-year prison sentence for child sexual abuse.
Prosecutors alleged Stacey Begay and his adopted daughter, Christina Begay, admitted to deputies and investigators in April 2011 that they had been involved in a sexual relationship for several months.
Terry Begay, the wife of Stacey Begay, allegedly arrived at home in April 2011 and found her husband in Christina Begay’s bedroom. The teenager was dressed only in a shirt. Terry Begay then retrieved a gun and opened fire on Stacey and Christina Begay, according to testimony.
After the alleged shooting, authorities were called to the home to investigate. Christina Begay testified Wednesday the shooting never took place – despite photos of bullet holes, a gun, and shell casings collected at the house, along with testimony by officers who were on the scene.
During the probe in 2011, Stacey and Christina Begay allegedly confessed to an ongoing sexual relationship. But Christina Begay took the stand Wednesday morning and denied several times that she and her adoptive father ever had sex. Instead, she claimed she was forced to make written statements in which she admitted to having sex with Stacey Begay.
“I was scared,” Christina Begay told jurors.
She also told jurors she doesn't understand how a DNA analysis concluded, with a 99.9 percent probability, that Stacey Begay is the father of her baby, a girl who was born in December of 2011.
During the trial, Assistant District Attorney Doug Dry produced two hand-written statements Christina Begay made to investigators in 2011, admitting to the sexual relationship. But Christina Begay looked over the documents and claimed she didn’t make them – that the statements were not her handwriting.
A friend of the Begay family later testified she was present when Christina Begay wrote at least one of the statements, and said she signed her name as a witness to one of the girl’s statements. The family friend told jurors that law enforcement officials never threatened Christina Begay or told her what to write while she was present that night in April 2011.
Dry also argued Stacey Begay provided police with a written statement that detailed how his daughter made him “feel good,” and would often bake him cookies or fix his dinner without criticizing him
The statements also included many specifics of the alleged sexual relationship, which Dry said read like a romance novel.
“It’s not a romance novel,” Dry told jurors. “He willfully took advantage of [Christina’s] trust, that youth ... for his own sense of satisfaction. Bless her heart, [Christina] just wanted to deny everything. ... Fortunately, nobody was shot [in April 2011]. That’s a godsend in this case – maybe one of the only ones.”
Stacey Begay’s defense attorney, Angela Jones, urged jurors to take all evidence and testimony into account, and not to allow the DNA report to be the deciding factor in the case. Jones called the investigation “ridiculous,” and said those involved were capable of making a mistake.
Jones also stressed that Christina Begay opted to testify on her father’s behalf, and not because she had been asked to.
She reminded jurors that Christina Begay said several times she was not lying.
During closing arguments, Dry told jurors Stacey Begay had shown a pattern of abuse – having had sex with adopted daughter 30 to 40 times in the span of a year, according to one of the statements made to police in 2011.
“This defendant needs to think about it for a very long time,” Dry said.
This week’s trial for Stacey Begay was his second in a year’s time. He was first sentenced to 30 years, but a judge granted him the new trial when Christina Begay claimed she was prevented from testifying on her father’s behalf.