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Potential jurors asked about child sex video

  • Story Highlights
  • Chester Arthur Stiles faces 22 felony counts in connection with sex tape
  • Tape showed girl younger than 3 being sexually assaulted
  • The tape surfaced years after the alleged assault
  • Potential jurors know about case, have strong feelings about it
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(CNN) -- Jury selection was under way Thursday in the case of a man accused of sexually assaulting a toddler and capturing it on videotape years ago, a crime that triggered a nationwide manhunt and search for the girl when the tape surfaced in 2007.

Chester Arthur Stiles faces life imprisonment if convicted of videtaping a sexual assault on a child.

Chester Arthur Stiles faces life imprisonment if convicted of videtaping a sexual assault on a child.

Chester Arthur Stiles, 38, faces 22 felony counts in connection with the videotape, including lewdness with a child, sexual assault with a minor and attempted sexual assault with a minor. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Thursday is the third day of jury selection, said Michael Sommermeyer, spokesman for Clark County, Nevada, courts.

Some 200 potential jurors were called, according to CNN affiliate KVBC. As of Thursday morning, only seven jurors had passed on to the next stage of selection, Sommermeyer said.

Prosecutors hope to seat 15 jurors eventually, Sommermeyer told CNN, meaning they'll want a pool of about 35 to pick from in the final stage.

Picking a jury in the case is challenging, according to KVBC, not only because of the media attention the case has drawn, but because of the crimes Stiles is accused of. A questionnaire given to potential jurors has one question addressing the videotape: "As a juror, despite the graphic nature of the videotape, can you promise to remain fair and impartial and objectively evaluate all evidence for returning a verdict?"

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"One, you let them know what the case involves and they've heard it on the news, it's a little difficult to get over any preconceived notions that they had about the case," defense attorney Stacey Roundtree told KVBC.

"However, we do have faith in this community that they want to do the right thing," she said. "Most of the jury trials I've had, the jurors go out of their way to make the right decision. They go out of their way to follow the judge's rules, and we're confident we can have that happen in this case."

The tape was given to authorities in September 2007 by a man who said he had found it in the desert five months before. On it, police found images of the small girl being sexually assaulted.

After attempting unsuccessfully to find out the girl's identity, authorities turned to the media for help and released a picture of the girl, and the case drew nationwide attention. She was found in October 2007.

An attorney for the child's mother said she is 7 years old and safe and healthy. The rape occurred before her third birthday while she was in the care of a baby sitter her mother had hired, he said. The mother did not know the girl had been victimized.

After the girl was found, authorities asked CNN and other news organizations to stop showing her picture.

Stiles, a resident of Pahrump, Nevada, was arrested in a traffic stop in October 2007. Police said at the time they pulled Stiles' car over because it had no license plate and became suspicious when the driver displayed an expired California license with a photo that did not match his appearance.

"He finally told us, 'Hey, I'm Chester Stiles,'" said Henderson, Nevada, police Officer Mike Dye. "'I'm the guy you're looking for." Stiles told police he was "sick of running," Dye said.

The mother of the girl shown on the tape, meanwhile, went on "The Dr. Phil Show" after Stiles' arrest, saying that while she was "relieved," it would have been "better if they found him dead." She said her daughter remembers nothing about the alleged assault.

"Nothing that I have seen in my career comes close to what this girl has gone through," Nye County, Nevada, Sheriff Tony DeMeo said during the manhunt for Stiles.

The man who turned the tape over to authorities, Darrin Tuck, faced criminal charges because of the delay in turning it over, during which authorities alleged he showed it to others.

A judge gave Tuck a one-year suspended sentence and three years' probation in April after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct a public officer, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He initially had faced a felony count of possession of child pornography.

All About Sexual OffensesChester Arthur StilesCriminal Trials

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