Witnesses for defense testify in Stiles trial

Tim Howsare

STINNETT — On Wednesday afternoon, four witnesses, including the defendant’s wife Ashley Stiles, were called to the stand by defense attorney William “Bill” Taylor in the trial of Myron Stiles, a former second-grade teacher at Gateway Elementary School who is accused of having an in appropriate relationship with one of his former female students.
Also Wednesday afternoon, the 12-member jury was shown excerpts of a video recording of Stiles giving testimony to Agent Steven Davis, an investigator with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Throughout the video, Davis repeatedly asked Taylor if he had touched the student, who was 8 years old at the time. While Stiles did admit that he touched her, he denied that it was sexual contact and that it had not aroused him in anyway.
Davis asked, “Without a shadow of a doubt were you aroused by it?”
Stiles again answered no and that the incident made him feel “scared.”
Davis asked Stiles if he talked about the incident with the girl afterward and Stiles answered no.
Davis also asked if anything like that had happened previously in Borger and Stiles said no.
After the video concluded, Taylor asked Davis how long the video session with Stiles lasted and Davis answered two or three hours.
Taylor asked if Stiles had been given any breaks and Davis said no.
Confronting Davis, Taylor said that Davis had interrupted Stiles several times while he was talking.
“You had already made up your mind that he was guilty,” Taylor said.
Davis denied the accusation.
Taylor asked Davis how many people he had interviewed previous to Stiles, and Davis answered thousands.
Then Taylor addressed the jury and said that at no time did Stiles intentionally touch the victim.
District Attorney Mark Snider disagreed, stating that Stiles had verbalized 50 times during the interview with Davis that the touching was not accidental.
Then Taylor moved for an instructed verdict, which means that the prosecution had failed to meet the burden of proof in the case, specifically that Stiles had touched the alleged victim for sexual arousal.
Snider said that the touching was “for a long period of time” and that the testimony from the alleged victim and two female witnesses indicted they were touched in a sexual manner.
Presiding Judge James Mosley denied Taylor’s request and the state rested its case.
Then Taylor addressed the jury, asking them to look at the case from Stiles’ point of view.
Stiles began teaching in the spring semester of 2013 after completing his bachelor’s degree and certification.
Taylor said that Stiles taught for one semester and was given a good evaluation. He applied for an assistant principal position in the district but didn’t get it, Taylor said. Then Stiles taught for a full year and was given a good evaluation, Taylor said. Once again, Stiles applied for an assistant principal job but didn’t get it, Taylor said.
Taylor said that Stiles resigned in April 2017. The actual last day in which Stiles’ worked for the district was March 23, 2017.
“The burden of proof is so high,” Taylor told the jury.
The first defense witness was Abbie Cano, who has worked as a nurse at Crockett Elementary School for seven years.
Responding to questions from Taylor, Cano said that the Crockett and Gateway buildings are connected and on occasion she has attended to students at Gateway.
She told the court that the district uses a comprehensive system that documents every visit from every student to a nurse at any school in the district.
Though Cano makes reports within that system, she said she cannot change another nurses’ report nor is she the supervisor of other nurses in the district.
According to the records, the alleged victim has visited the nurse’s office at Gateway in November 2013 for a rash to her lower abdomen. Cano said that the girl’s grandmother brought powder and Benadryl to the school to treat the rash.
In both semesters in 2013, the girl had reported to the nurses office for stomach aches 19 times, Cano told the court.
Taylor asked Cano if there was any other record of the girl receiving treatment for a rash to her lower abdomen or private area, and Cano answered no.
Snider asked Cano if the rash could have been on the girl’s genitalia and the nurse answered no, emphasizing that it was her lower abdomen.
Taylor’s next witness was Ashley Stiles, the wife of the defendant.
Responding to questions from Taylor, Ashley Stiles said the couple had been married 15 years and that they had no children together. She said her husband had five children and a couple of step children.
Ashley Stiles said that before her husband became a teacher he was a computer operator at Anderson Merchandisers. Then, while attending college to become a teacher, he quit that job and worked as a waiter because that work schedule fit better around his schooling, she said.
Ashley Stiles said the couple moved from Amarillo to Borger when her husband was hired by BISD but has since moved back to Amarillo.
Then Taylor asked Ashley Stiles if she had helped her husband move furniture around the classroom when he took over the class from the previous teacher and she answered yes.
She said the teacher’s desk was left in the same corner but moved out a short distance and that some cabinets were moved behind the desk.
Taylor also called to the stand two mothers of two girls who had been former students of Stiles.
As with the questions he asked Ashley Stiles, Taylor asked questions about the arrangement of furniture in the classroom, showing pictures of the classroom to the jury.
At no point did Taylor ask the witnesses anything about Stiles’ character.
Snider and Assistant District Attorney Erin Lands made several objections to Taylor’s questions to the witnesses, most of which were sustained by the judge.
Taylor asked one of the witnesses, Victoria Scroggins of Borger, if she had ever attended activities in Stiles’ classroom and she said she had attended a Valentine’s Day and Christmas party.
Taylor asked if Scroggins is Stiles had decorated the classroom for either of the events and Lands objected to the question, which was sustained by the judge.
Then Taylor asked Scroggins if she had ever seen Stiles have a student sit in his lap and Lands again objected with the judge sustaining her objection. Then Taylor asked a question about a space in the classroom and Lands objected for a third time in a row. Again, her objection was sustained by Mosley.
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s proceeding, Snider said he had prepared a charge which he will give to Taylor and the court.
Court reconvenes at 9 a.m. today.