August 15, 2014 - 9:42 pm
A 53-year-old man who tried to kill himself while standing trial in Pahrump on child sex abuse charges was acquitted by a jury Friday.
Jackie Lee Argabright Jr.’s lawyer said his client — who was found not guilty of five counts of sexual assault on a child under 14 — may have suffered “irreversible damage” from swallowing a near-fatal amount of antifreeze on Wednesday.
Argabright remained at a Las Vegas hospital after he was airlifted Wednesday in the midst of his trial. If he had been convicted, Argabright would have faced five life sentences.
The charges stemmed from allegations made by two girls who said Argabright performed oral sex acts on them and also forced them to perform oral sex acts on him.
Defense lawyer Michael Becker on Friday said he was grateful to the jury for not getting drawn into the emotion of the incident. “We believed the facts did not support a conviction in the case,” Becker said.
Becker spoke to Argabright on Friday and said his client sounded weak but expressed gratitude to the jury.
“I’m hoping he can move forward with his life, but he may have suffered irreversible damage,” Becker said.
Becker said his client might have permanent kidney damage requiring ongoing dialysis treatment.
Becker said there were inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case that led to the not guilty verdict, including that the girls did not make the accusations until years after the alleged incidents. He also cited a lack of corroborating evidence to support their claims.
Becker said Argabright never explained to him why he attempted suicide, but the lawyer explained to the jury “the accusations alone were devastating to him.”
A call late Friday to the Nye County district attorney’s office was not immediately returned.
Argabright, who moved to Texas after leaving Pahrump, appeared intoxicated and incoherent when he showed up for court Wednesday morning.
After concerns were raised about Argabright’s sobriety, he was given a breathalyzer test. But he couldn’t complete it and was placed in handcuffs and ordered to jail on a contempt charge.
But before Argabright was hauled away, his organs began to fail and he was soon airlifted to a Las Vegas hospital.
Becker requested a mistrial after the suicide attempt, over the objections of prosecutors. However, Nye County District Judge Robert Lane denied Becker’s motion and ordered the trial to move forward without Argabright.
Becker said Friday that Argabright guzzled antifreeze he found at a hotel he was staying at during the trial.
Pahrump Valley Times writer Christy Graham contributed to this report. Contact Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe.