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State v. Wilson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

September 18, 2014


Session July 23, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Campbell County No. 14512 E. Shayne Sexton, Judge

Gregory P. Isaacs and Andrea B. Mohr, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Bill Shannon Wilson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Lori Phillips-Jones, District Attorney General; and Leif E. Jeffers, Assistant District Attorney General for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., and Timothy L. Easter, Sp. J., joined.


Robert W. Wedemeyer, Judge

I. Background and Facts

A Campbell County grand jury indicted the Defendant for two counts of rape of a child. At a trial on the charges, the parties presented the following evidence: The victim testified that she was sixteen years old at the time of trial and in her junior year of high school. The victim stated that the Defendant, whom she had known her whole life, was married to her great aunt. She related that she spent time with the Defendant during holiday celebrations, and that she and her older sister, P.S., would "stay the night" at his home.

The victim testified that her birthday is at the end of June. After school had finished in mid-May, but before her twelfth birthday in June of 2007, she spent the day at the Defendant's and her great aunt's house. That night, she, P.S., and the Defendant "went to go ride the four-wheelers around the block." She explained that the Defendant had two four-wheelers, a green one and a blue one. The blue four-wheeler was larger than the green, so she rode on the blue four-wheeler seated behind the Defendant while P.S. drove the green four-wheeler. At some point, the Defendant and the victim became separated from P.S. She described the area saying, "there was a road that went - - you could go straight or you could follow the road and you can turn the curve." This gravel road, "like a little driveway, " led down to an area where there was a "big thing of concrete." She identified photographs of the area. One of the pictures depicted a dirt path that the victim said was "basically a four-wheeler trail going down to it, basically a faster way to get down there."

The victim testified that the Defendant drove down the side road that led into a wooded area where "the house used to be" and parked the four-wheeler, "facing back towards the roadway." The victim said that she was familiar with the area because she and her sister had driven the four-wheelers down to this area before. She said that this concrete slab was close to the Defendant's house. The victim said that P.S. had continued on the main road explaining that the Defendant "sped up" leaving P.S. "quite a ways" behind them.

The victim testified that, after the Defendant parked the four-wheeler, he told her that they were "gonna sit down here and talk for a minute." She said that she was seated "sideways" on the four-wheeler while the Defendant was standing. The Defendant touched her knees but "it didn't really bother [her]." She said they talked for a few minutes and then, "[the Defendant] got mad, I guess, and then he just kind of slammed me down on it." The Defendant retrieved two bungee cords from the rear of the four-wheeler and tied the victim's wrists to the handlebars of the four-wheeler. The victim described in detail the bungee cords for the jury. He then pulled the victim's jeans and underwear off and positioned himself over the victim and penetrated the victim's vagina and "started moving." She described his penetration as painful. When he finished, the Defendant told the victim that if she said "anything, " he knew where she lived. She said that she initially thought this was a threat but as she thought about it she "wasn't sure how exactly to take that."

The victim testified that the Defendant untied her, threw her clothes at her, and told her to get dressed. The victim said that she didn't say anything to the Defendant, "the first time." She explained that, a few weeks later, but still before her twelfth birthday in June 2007, her mother needed to "take [her] papaw to Murfreesboro, " so her mother asked the Defendant if the victim could stay with him while she was away. The victim said that she had not had any contact with the Defendant since the earlier incident. When she learned he was coming to get her, she said she did not "freak out or anything" because she believed it would not happen again. She stated that, at this time, she had not told anyone about the incident because she "felt dirty" and "shameful" like "it was [her] fault."

The victim testified that the Defendant picked up the victim at her home in a "little black Chevrolet truck." On the way to the Defendant's house, he pulled into the same area where the "house had been." She said that the two sat in the truck talking. When they stopped talking, the Defendant leaned over her with one arm on the console and his other arm on the passenger side armrest with his face directly in front of hers and then leaned back over into his seat. She said that the Defendant sat in his seat with his arm still on the console "for a minute or so" and then reached over, unbuttoned her pants, and put his hand down her pants and placed one of his fingers inside of her vagina. The prosecutor asked the victim how she felt when the Defendant did this and the victim replied, "I just felt like - - you know, I thought what - - what honestly am I doing so wrong." She said the Defendant moved his finger "in and out" of her vagina and that it hurt "[a] little." When the Defendant stopped, the victim looked at him and asked "why are you doing this to me[?]" She said that the Defendant just looked at her and then drove to the house.

The victim testified that she spent that night at her great aunt's and the Defendant's house as her mother had planned and that nothing else occurred during her stay. She stated that there had been no sexual contact between her and the Defendant since the incident in the pickup truck. She said that she did not tell her parents immediately because she was afraid that they would be ashamed of her. She said she felt like "it was [her] fault, " and she would be blamed for the incidents. She stated that, when she was thirteen years old, she told a friend, Tiffany Hatfield, about the first incident but that the two girls lost contact with one another. Later she recalled seeing a television commercial for "Safe Haven" so she "called, and [she] told a lady about it." When the woman she spoke with on the telephone told her the incidents would have to be reported, the victim said she was ready to report it because she did not "want to live with it on [her] conscience every day." The victim stated that she made this telephone call to Safe Haven in October 2009.

The victim testified that the woman she spoke with on the telephone came to see her the following day and stayed with her while she told her parents. She said that she struggled with telling her family and explained that the impact has been "hard for everybody." She agreed that she had spoken with detectives about the incidents but that she had not told her sister, P.S., "a whole lot about it."

On cross-examination, the victim maintained she had previously been to the location where the Defendant took her on those two occasions despite her testimony at the preliminary hearing that she had not been there before. The victim said that she did not recall telling Jami Hall and Malea Henegar that, after the first incident and before the second incident, the Defendant called her "several times" threatening to climb through her window and kill her if she told anyone. She also stated that she did not remember telling Ms. Hall that the Defendant called her a "dirty whore" or that P.S. was the first person she told about the incidents when she was thirteen. The victim maintained that she told P.S. after the DCS worker came to her home and she had told her parents. The victim said she did not remember telling Ms. Hall that the Defendant took her home after the ...

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