You are the owner of this article.

Expert witness testifies at sentencing hearing for convicted sex offender

Emanuel Lee Yarbrough

Emanuel Lee Yarbrough on the stand in Calhoun County Circuit Court in August.

A Calhoun County circuit court judge heard expert testimony Friday morning during a sentencing hearing for an Oxford man convicted of sexually abusing a child younger than 6.

Emanuel Yarbrough, 34, was convicted last month of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse. The minimum and maximum punishments for sexual abuse of a child under 6 years old is life without parole, according to Alabama law. Yarbrough’s attorneys, Jake Mathews and Alyssa Enzor, contested the constitutionality of the life-without-parole statute.

Because of a personal matter with one of Yarbrough’s attorneys, sentencing was delayed until Sept. 21 at 9 a.m.    

Frankie Preston, a forensic psychologist, testified on the findings of several questionnaires and tests administered to Yarbrough while incarcerated.

“In these tests the most salient things that we look for is whether or not there is developed mental stability,” Preston said.

Preston cited during his testimony a history of abuse in Yarbrough’s family, and similar crimes committed by his father, brother and half-brother. One test administered to Yarbrough was designed to inquire about 111 symptoms with 13 categories that he could fall into depending on his responses.

“Mr. Yarbrough endorsed experiencing symptoms that were indicative of five of those psychiatrically coined diagnoses — major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and somatization disorder,” Preston said.

Preston testified that these symptoms likely began before he was incarcerated for his crimes. Another test, designed to record reaction time, showed Yarbrough a series of images of people of all ages in various stages of dress.

“Based on visual reaction time, his results indicated his sexual interests were Caucasian adult females, and Caucasian girls ages 14 to 17,” Preston testified. “The latter category is not considered unusual or abnormal because in comparisons done with the general public, most men fall in the same category.”

During cross examination by the state’s prosecutor, Jayme Amberson, Preston stated he would accept Yarbrough into his program for sexual offenders if Circuit Judge Debra Jones chooses to sentence him to the program.

“I would accept him given the usual stipulations,” he said. “Admission of some kind of sexual problem is a must, in conjunction with some kind of support group along with the treatment program.”

Amberson raised questions about the safety of releasing Yarbrough to a program instead of sentencing him to life without parole. Preston explained that each participant in the program adheres to strict regulations and monitoring, but ultimately could not guarantee Yarbrough would not commit another offense after completion of the program.

“There are only three people I know who have completed the program and committed another offense,” Preston said. “We have a program for graduates that come back and do a check-up, check-in program. It is partially mandatory, if they are still on probation, the officer or judge can stipulate that, but it’s not always mandatory.”  


​Staff writer Kirsten Fiscus: 256-235-3552. On Twitter @kfiscus_star.