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State v. Jefferson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 25, 2015


Session Date: January 6, 2015

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 11-05625 Lee V. Coffee, Judge

Neil Umsted (on appeal) and Charles Waldman (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jerald Jefferson.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Terre Fratesi, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Camille R. McMullen and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined.




The victim in this matter reported to police officers in 2002 that she had been raped. At the time, she was a sixteen-year-old high school student. A DNA sample was taken from her, but the matter was dormant until 2010, when a DNA sample taken from the defendant was determined to match the sample taken from the victim in 2002. He was indicted for aggravated rape in 2011 and convicted of this offense. After the motion for new trial had been overruled, substitute appellate counsel was appointed. He filed a timely notice of appeal. Since the issues presented by this appeal were neither objected to at trial nor raised in the motion for new trial, we will determine whether we may utilize a plain error review in our consideration.

The State's first witness was Memphis Police Officer Raymond Anthony Owens, who testified that, on October 4, 2002, he received a call from the dispatcher to go to a business address on Elvis Presley Boulevard. When he arrived, an EMS technician was completing an examination of the victim. Officer Owens described the victim as having "clothing [that] was in disarray. Her hair was kind of messed up. She was upset, crying." She told him what had happened:

She said she was in front of Trezevant High School. Somebody came up behind her, put something over her head, put her inside of a vehicle. She thinks there w[ere] about three attackers. And while they drove around, they sexually assaulted her. They held her down and sexually assaulted her.

Officer Owens then transferred the victim to the rape crisis center, where she was examined and a DNA sample was taken.

The victim's mother next testified, saying that the victim was the middle of three daughters. In 2002, the victim attended Trezevant High School, where she was on the track team and played volleyball, as well as the clarinet and the drum for the school band. She was a "good child" and "as far as being a liar or giving . . . a lot of trouble, she didn't do that." On October 4, 2002, the victim was to call from school when she was ready to be picked up and brought home. Around 3:00 p.m. that day, the witness received a telephone call from McClain Motors on Elvis Presley Boulevard, telling her that the victim "was there and she had been hurt." The victim had called her stepfather, and he and her mother went to McClain Motors. When they arrived, the victim was "hysterical." Her mother further described her condition:

I don't think she had on a shirt. I know she didn't have on shoes. Her hair was pulled – like it had been in a ponytail, so pulled – she was in bad shape. She was in bad shape.
She wasn't physically . . . beaten, no. Crying. Hysterical, really. It was . . . bad. If you seen your child like this, you would understand. It was bad.

The victim testified that, at the time of trial, eleven years after the rape, she was twenty-seven years old, working as a security officer, and living with her parents. She had graduated both from high school and Southwest Tennessee Community College. She said that, on October 4, 2002, she had been at school and was leaving to return home, as her mother had instructed, when she heard a person she knew as "Antonio" call her name. She described what happened next:

So I walked over, and then the next thing you know, there was a bag being put on my head, and people were pulling me, and I was hearing yelling, and I was yelling, and I was drug into the car.
We rolled around for a long time, you know. If your head is covered, it can only be a long time, you know. So we drove around and drove around and drove around. And I heard whispering. And we pulled over somewhere, and I can remember them snatching my clothes off. I can remember people holding me down. I can remember me screaming, "Stop it. No. What are you doing? Let me go." I'm blind, so I can't see without my glasses. I can remember them taking everything that I had.
When they finally finished, they never said anything to me. And they let me out and . . . everything in me was gone. And I was scared. And I called my dad. And he told me to call ...

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