UPDATE: Jury convicts on one count in sex crime trial involving two teenagers who alleged they were abused more than 10 years ago

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Kenneth Wilson Mills in the moments he heard he had been found guilty of one count criminal sodomy of a child on Aug. 5, 2022 at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

UPDATE 12:35 P.M. AUG. 5, 2022

A Douglas County jury returned a verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated sodomy of a child Friday for a man who was facing multiple counts of sex crimes against children alleged to have occurred more than a decade ago.

Kenneth Wilson Mills, 35 of De Soto, was facing one count of rape of a child, two counts of aggravated sodomy of a child, and one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. The jury returned the verdict after about 12 hours of deliberations that began around 4 p.m. on Wednesday and lasted until noon on Friday.

The jury could not reach a unanimous decision about the charge of rape of a child. The jury found Mills not guilty on the second charge of aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

Mills was taken into custody after the hearing.

Story updated at 4:57 p.m. Thursday:

Jurors deliberated all day Thursday in a case involving charges of sexual assault that are alleged to have occurred more than a decade ago.

Testimony concluded on Wednesday in the case against Kenneth Wilson Mills, 35, of De Soto. He is charged with one count of rape, two counts of aggravated sodomy, and one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. All of the charges are off-grid felonies and could result in a life sentence if Mills were to be convicted.

On Wednesday, Mills took the stand in his own defense and denied the allegations, and his defense attorneys said that the alleged victims’ memories were flawed because they said they remember the assaults taking place in a home next to a Lawrence doughnut shop, but records show the doughnut shop hadn’t yet been built at that time.

But jurors also heard emotional testimony from the alleged victims, now 14 and 17 years old, over the course of two days.

“Sorry. Can we take a second?” the younger girl asked the court through tears on Tuesday just after describing a graphic experience she remembered in which Mills allegedly pulled her into his bedroom when she was 3 years old.

On Wednesday, when a video from a July 2019 police interview of the girl was being played for the jury, the girl, while sitting in the courtroom, closed her eyes and covered her ears and put her head down until the video, which described graphic allegations, was over.

As previously reported by the Journal-World, the trial began Tuesday with the two teenage girls who testified that they remembered Mills, their mother’s former boyfriend, sexually assaulted them when they were in preschool and kindergarten about a decade ago. They first reported the abuse to police in July of 2019.

The older girl previously testified that she didn’t come forward earlier because she “didn’t think anyone would care,” while the younger girl said Mills “told me that my mom already knew and they had talked about it.”

On Wednesday, though, Mills denied the allegations. Mills’ testimony began with the defense playing an audio tape of a time the younger girl, along with Detective Joshua Leitner, recorded a call with Mills in 2019 where the girl tried to get Mills to confess to the alleged abuse.

“I remember what you did to me as a little kid,” she said on the recorded call.

“What did I do to you, honey?” Mills asked the girl.

“I need you to help me understand why. You touched me, why?” she asked.

“I did not touch you,” Mills replied.

Mills then told the girl on the call that she needed to call her mother and she should contact the police and that he would do whatever he could do to help find out who touched her but that it wasn’t him.

Defense attorney Nicholas David concluded his questioning of Mills by asking him directly whether he did what the girls have accused him of.

“Absolutely not.” Mills said.

David also presented evidence questioning the girls’ recollections, especially of the timeline of the alleged assaults. David said both girls’ testimony was connected to a time in their lives when they believed they lived next to a particular doughnut shop, but when the defense researched the business, the owner said that it wasn’t built until after the alleged incidents. David said the girls’ memories were not reliable enough to be used to convict Mills of such serious charges.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Nicholas David at a trial on Aug. 3, 2022, at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

In closing arguments, David also argued that police hadn’t interviewed all the necessary witnesses in the case, including some of the people to whom the girls first reported the alleged abuse.

In the prosecution’s closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden said that the girls who have accused Mills of abuse did so when they understood what happened to them was wrong and understood that their mother would care. He said it didn’t matter how long it took for that to happen.

Jurors will resume deliberations in the case on Friday morning.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden at a trial on Aug. 3, 2022, at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.