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State v. Paige

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

July 28, 2015


Assigned on Briefs June 10, 2015

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Sumner County No. 2013CR263 Dee David Gay, Judge.

David A. Doyle, District Public Defender (on appeal), and John. D. Pellegrin, Gallatin, Tennessee, (at sentencing) for the Appellant, James Andrew Paige.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; L. Ray Whitley, District Attorney General; and Jayson Criddle, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

John Everett Williams, delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Camille R. McMullen, J., joined.




This case arose after the forty-five-year-old defendant had sexual intercourse with the victim, his seventeen-year-old niece. The defendant was initially charged with one count of rape and one count of aggravated statutory rape. In exchange for the defendant's guilty plea to aggravated statutory rape, the State agreed to nolle prosequi the rape charge. At the guilty plea hearing, the State set forth the following as the factual basis for the plea:

[I]f this case had proceeded to trial today, the State anticipates the proof would have been that the defendant engaged in, according to the victim, nonconsensual sexual intercourse with her that resulted in her becoming pregnant. There was a pregnancy, as well as an abortion. We had the DNA tested, and the DNA did match the defendant's DNA.
It's my understanding the defense contests whether or not it was consensual. That is not an issue for this, but, by entering this plea agreement, the State is not conceding that it was consensual; just that that is not an element of this offense.

The defendant admitted that he was guilty of aggravated statutory rape, and the trial court accepted his guilty plea.

At the sentencing hearing, Detective Sam Uldrich testified that he began investigating the defendant's case for the Goodlettsville Police Department after the victim and her mother filed a police report. Detective Uldrich spoke with the victim, and she alleged that the defendant forcibly raped her, which resulted in a pregnancy. The victim participated in a forensic interview, where she "gave a full and open disclosure of the events." After the forensic interview, Detective Uldrich spoke with the defendant and asked "if he would be willing to come in and talk to [Detective Uldrich] so we could get this straightened out." The defendant declined, but he agreed to voluntarily provide Detective Uldrich with a DNA sample.

The victim and her family ultimately decided to terminate the pregnancy, and Detective Uldrich attended the proceeding with the victim. Detective Uldrich collected a DNA sample from the fetus and sent the sample, along with the defendant's DNA, to a laboratory for testing. The results of the DNA test showed a "99.99 percent" certainty that the defendant was the father. Once Detective Uldrich received the results, a warrant was issued for the defendant's arrest. Detective Uldrich went to arrest the defendant and informed him of the test results. The defendant claimed that the DNA must have belonged to his son, and he told Detective Uldrich that he caught the victim and his son having sexual intercourse. Detective Uldrich explained to the defendant that if the DNA had belonged to his son, the test results would have revealed a different percentage match.

Kimberly Gulden testified that she interviewed the defendant in order to prepare his presentence report. She described the defendant as "very defensive" throughout the interview and "pretty difficult to deal with." He told Ms. Gulden that he did not commit the crime that he was charged with, and he stated that he had never committed a crime or been on probation. When Ms. Gulden began to discuss the necessary information to schedule his psychosexual evaluation, the defendant became "very defensive" and indicated that he did not feel as though the evaluation was necessary. The defendant "just wanted to argue" with Ms. Gulden that the intercourse with the victim had been consensual. Ms. Gulden informed him that minors were incapable of consensual sexual intercourse in Tennessee, and the defendant responded that she was "'of the age of consent in other states.'" Ms. Gulden confronted the defendant ...

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