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Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Behind Bars: Sex Offender given maximum sentence

A sex offender was sentenced to 80 years last week after a jury returned a guilty verdict.

Joseph Chapman, was found guilty of two counts of rape after only approximately 40 minutes of jury deliberation. In count one the victim was under 14, and in the second count the defendant was a guardian over the victim. 

Special Judge Charles Yeargan presided and ordered the sentences to run consecutively, for a total of 80 years. The range of punishment for count one was 25-40 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections or life and count two was 10-40 years or life. Chapman will be eligible for release from prison after he serves 70% of his sentence and he will be required to be registered as a sex offender. 

 The Prosecuting Attorney D. Jason Barrett and Chief Deputy Debra Wood Buschman presented a case with testimony from the victim as well as investigators.

“I am the proudest of the bravest person to testify today,” Buschman said after the trial.”Justice is often slow and sometimes difficult, but today it was right.”

Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer publicly thanked Bushman and Barett.

 “Thank you for your great work presenting this very difficult case today,” Sawyer said. “You guys did a great job. Thank you to all my guys that worked so hard putting this case together. It’s been a long haul but it was worth it.” 

He also thanked the jury and victim.

“It was a tough one and we appreciate you for, what I believe was, a just verdict and an appropriate sentence,” he said. “Thank you to a special young lady for your grace and courage.”

Bushman noted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, including former Chief Deputy Michael Godfrey, current Chief Deputy Randy Jewell, and Deputy Mark Cannon, as well as 18th West Investigator Elena Cannon and DTF Investigator David Hall, for “an outstanding job investigating and building this case.”

“They followed all leads, interviewed numerous witnesses, obtained and executed multiple search warrants, collected evidence and had it analyzed by the State Crime Lab, and at the end of the day we were confident that their efforts would result in convictions on both counts,” Buschman said. “This Polk County Jury listened attentively and thoughtfully rendered a just verdict.  Although the State had very good physical evidence, like DNA, the victim’s bravery and candor are what ultimately made the case.   All of the State’s witnesses are the real heros in this case who boldly told the truth.  Each was instrumental in putting this dangerous sexual predator behind bars.”

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