Chris Simcox gained notoriety as a founder of an Arizona border militia but he now faces child-molestation charges in which he wants to take the unorthodox step of representing himself in trial and questioning his accusers in court.


A Maricopa County Superior Court jury on Wednesday found former “border-vigilante” leader Chris Simcox guilty of two counts of child molestation and one count of furnishing obscene material to a minor.

The three-woman, nine-man jury found him not guilty on three other counts of sexual conduct with a minor — a charge that carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

The jury had been debating the case since Monday afternoon.

Simcox, 55, was charged with the six counts in 2013 after two girls, ages 5 and 6, accused him of touching them appropriately between 2012 and 2013.

Simcox faces a sentence of between 10 and 24 years in prison for each of the molestation convictions. A spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said the sentences could run concurrent to one another, but consecutive to any other count.

The jury’s verdict was essentially split by accuser. Simcox was convicted of all of the charges tied to the 5-year-old girl and none of those tied to the 6-year-old.

The mother of the then-5-year-old squeezed her face in her palm and dabbed her eyes with tissue after the verdict was read.

“I don’t have words,” she said shortly after the courtroom let out. “It’s over. I can go home and tell my daughter.”

She said in the end it wasn’t important to her whether Simcox was found guilty on all of the charges.

“He was convicted on at least one, and that’s all we need,” she said. “This conviction is for all of the children that he hurt.”

Simcox, wearing a black suit and blue dress shirt, was ushered out of the courtroom by a detention officer after the verdict was read. Though he had acted as his own attorney throughout the case, Simcox was not permitted to speak to the media inside the courtroom.

Kerrie Droban, Simcox’s advisory counsel, said she thought Simcox did a “valiant job” representing himself, and said she felt the jury gave him a fair shake.

“I’m disappointed that they came back on the charges involving that one victim,” she said. “Because he clearly ... convinced them on the charges involving [the other girl.]”

The Arizona Republic has chosen not to identify the accusers in this case.

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Prosecutors relied on witness testimony to make their case, and presented no physical evidence throughout the trial.

On the first day of the trial May 18, one of the girls — now 8 — testified about how Simcox touched her privates “like a cup” when she was at his apartment.

Two others not named as victims in the case also testified that Simcox had touched them inappropriately. Another young girl said the defendant had bribed her with candy to see her genitals, and a woman said Simcox had molested her as a child.

Simcox had argued that he was the victim of a “perfect storm of circumstances,” and said each victim had motive to implicate him.

The case caught the attention of victims’ rights advocates last year, after Simcox announced that he planned to not only represent himself but to personally cross-examine his accusers in trial.

His intended strategy prompted various delays in the trial as prosecutors and victims’ attorneys attempted to fight it in higher courts. Simcox ultimately abandoned the plan earlier this year.

Simcox first gained notoriety in the mid-2000s as a polarizing figure within the debate on illegal immigration in Arizona. He co-founded the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group that urged citizens to take it upon themselves to secure the U.S.’s southern border.

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