Laurel man convicted in sexual battery trial with relative

Laurel man convicted in sexual battery trial with relative
Spears started crying as the verdict was read Wednesday afternoon. Source: WDAM.

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A Laurel man could spend the rest of his life behind bars for sexually assaulting one of his relatives.

A jury found Michael Spears guilty on two counts of sexual battery after a day-long trial in Jones County Wednesday.

Jones County Assistant District Attorney Kristen Martin said the victim, now 25-years-old, is developmentally delayed and graduated from a special education program at an area high school.

The victim testified that Spears inappropriately touched her while on the couch when she was 10-years-old and then forced her to have sexual intercourse when she was 17-years-old. She stated Spears told her not to tell her mother or anyone else.

When Martin asked the victim why she waited to report the incidents to the Jones County Sheriff's Department, she said she was scared.

"I was scared... of my life," the victim told the jury. "And I was scared if I told anyone it would happen again."

On the stand, Spears told the jury he never threatened the victim and "made a mistake."  At one point, Spears broke down, sobbing to the jury "I have not broken the law, I broke a moral law."

Spears' attorney, Carlisle Henderson, told jurors the victim came on to his client and asked jurors to take the verdict seriously in closing arguments.

"At this point, you get to decide if Michael Spears goes home or goes to prison for the rest of his life," said Henderson.

A sentencing hearing is set for 9 a.m. in Ellisville. Spears faces up to 60 years in prison.