Jurors hear first testimony in Kings’ trial

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 28, 2001

MEADVILLE — Jurors were selected, opening statements were heardand trial began Monday afternoon for two Walthall County menaccused of molesting a 13-year-old boy earlier this year.

David Earl King, 67, leader of the Valley of the Kingschurch-farm community, and Nathan Paul King, 33, a member of thecommunity who has been cared for by D.E. King since childhood, facecharges of sexual battery, conspiracy to commit sexual battery andcontributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The Kings were arrested earlier this year after a young boy, whowas a member of the community at the time, told authorities he hadbeen involved in sexual activity with the men.

During opening arguments, Assistant District Attorney BillGoodwin outlined the state’s case against the Kings.

He told the 16 jurors, of which four were alternates, that thestate planned to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” the Kingsparticipated in sexual acts with the boy and showed the boypornographic material. The incidents allegedly occurred while thechild was attending church and school at the Valley of theKings.

Goodwin explained how the boy’s mother had attended D.E. King’schurch in Baxterville over 25 years ago. She and her husband wereloyal followers when the church was moved to a rural area inWalthall County, thus allowing their son to become involved in theorganization, he added.

Valley of the Kings was described by Goodwin as a small,independent church with a school in a nearby location. Members wore”austere clothing” and did not watch television, according toGoodwin.

“They led very simple lives… and church was the center oftheir social activities,” Goodwin said.

The young boy behaved like the others and seemed to enjoyattending church regularly until February 2001, Goodwin toldjurors.

“Suddenly he did not want to go anywhere around David EarlKing,” he added.

Goodwin went on to tell jurors that on March 1, the boy confidedin his parents that the Kings had been molesting him, Goodwin said.The boy and his mother went to the Walthall County Sheriff’sDepartment, where the boy talked with an investigator and aDepartment of Human Services representative.

During the interview, the young boy described sexual aids andpornographic material that was found by authorities the next dayafter arresting the Kings and serving a search warrant on theKings’ property on Eon-Sartinville Road in Jayess.

Walthall County Sheriff Duane Dillon and Investigator TonyRushing testified Monday that the materials were found where theboy had said they would be during the interview.

They also mentioned other items, such as photographs of nudemen, and magazines with homosexual and explicit material, foundduring two searches on the Kings’ property. The material was foundprimarily in the bedroom of D.E. King, which was locked with adeadbolt.

Defense attorney John Collette repeatedly asked Dillon andRushing about the specifics of the search, continuously mentioningwhy authorities did not obtain a key to the bedroom rather thankicking in the door.

He also questioned why authorities did not collect fingerprintsor semen samples from the room. Dillon and Rushing did not have anexplanation.

Collette, who is representing D.E. King, also pointed out to thejury that the pornographic and homosexual magazines were notaddressed to his client. They were addressed to a long timeacquaintance of his, saying it did not prove the magazines were hisclient’s just because they were in his room.

He also indicated to the jury that such material could have justcome to the home of D.E. King in the form of “junk mail.”

In redirect questioning, Goodwin wondered if having so manyissues, over two dozen magazines, could be classified asunsolicited mail.

“Have you ever, in your 53 years, received mail like thisunexpectedly,” Goodwin asked Dillon, who responded with a “no.”

Collette also wondered why authorities were so willing tobelieve the allegations of the 13-year-old boy. He asked if therewas any other evidence, or where they just relying on the boy to becredible.

After some debate among lawyers, authorities were allowed toreveal they had other reported cases that convinced them a searchwas necessary. Those cases will not be discussed during the trialbecause they will be addressed at other trials.

Nathan Paul King’s lawyer Wayne Dowdy did not have manyquestions for Dillon and Rushing. He simply asked them if any ofthe materials were found in his client’s room, and received anegative answer from both officers.

Earlier in the day, due to the graphic nature of the allegationsand the high-profile of the case, Circuit Court Judge Mike Smithset strict rules for jurors and spectators in the Franklin CountyCourtroom. The trial was moved from Walthall County because ofpretrial publicity.

Smith told jurors they could not watch or read any news coverageof the trial, nor could they discuss the trial with anyone.

No one under 16 years of age will be allowed in the courtroom,and cameras will not be allowed in the Franklin County Courthousewhile the trial is under way, according to Smith.

He also addressed the 20-25 spectators, making sure they tookthis trial very seriously. They were instructed not to talk orwhisper while court was in session, no matter what wasdepicted.

“If you need to get yourself entertained, go to a picture show,”Smith said.

The trial is expected to continue throughout the week.