Deon Waynewood, who has been facing multiple charges for child sex crimes since 2019, accepted a guilty plea Friday evening.
The plea deal came just before a jury trial was set to begin Monday.
Waynewood, 41, will plead guilty to a reduced charge of sexual battery of a child, punishable with up to 25 years in prison. The charge is less severe than the original charge of lewd conduct with a minor, which is punishable with up to life in prison.
Bonneville County Prosecutor Alayne Bean said the plea agreement is binding, meaning the judge will be bound by the terms laid out in the agreement at sentencing. The deal limits the determinate portion of the sentence to a maximum of eight years in prison, with no agreement on the determinate period.
Three other charges of lewd conduct with a minor also were dismissed as part of the plea agreement, as were the enhancements which would have required Waynewood to serve a minimum of 15 years in prison.
The plea deal means Waynewood will face a much lighter prison sentence than what he could have received if convicted on all charges, which would have carried a mandatory minimum of 60 years in prison.
However, the plea deal also allows the state to avoid a long trial in which the juvenile victim, who said Waynewood raped her multiple times over several years, would have had to testify in front of Waynewood and be cross examined by his attorney.
Waynewood was first arrested in April 2019 after the victim reported Waynewood had sexually abused her multiple times.
The first rape happened in January 2017. The victim told police she had hoped it was a one-time incident and that she did not report it. Several other rapes followed, however, with the victim reporting Waynewood would wait until she was alone to assault her.
In one incident, Waynewood made the victim perform sex acts when she needed gas money. In another, he threatened the victim and accused her of “disrespecting” him by resisting.
The last incident happened in December 2018, when the victim decided to report Waynewood. She kept her clothes unwashed as evidence. A bedsheet from the victim’s room also was found by police with samples of Waynewood’s semen.
Waynewood was already a registered sex offender during these incidents, having been convicted of sexual assault of a child in Colorado in 2000.
Since being charged, Waynewood’s case has seen multiple delays, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in part because Waynewood fled the area.
Waynewood also has had half a dozen lawyers, most of them quitting after citing differences with Waynewood or over claims that he did not pay them. In one incident Waynewood tried unsuccessfully to have friends make court filings on his behalf, claiming his lawyer was not acting in his interest.
Waynewood also had claimed he was a Moorish sovereign citizen, a movement that claims its members are not subject to U.S. law.
A trial had been set to start in June 2021, but Waynewood did not appear and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was found in Colorado, but was granted bail and disappeared again.
Waynewood was arrested in October after police found him in Arizona, where he had lived under an assumed name.
District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. has ordered a psychosexual evaluation be performed on Waynewood in preparation of his sentencing.
Sentencing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Oct. 3 in Bonneville County Court.