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State v. Ray

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 6, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs February 23, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Morgan County No. 2014-CR-46 Jeffery H. Wicks, Judge

         Following the Defendant's, Jeffery Dwight Ray's, guilty-pleaded conviction for aggravated statutory rape, the trial court imposed a sentence of three years' incarceration. The Defendant appeals, arguing that he is a suitable candidate for alternative sentencing pursuant to the statutory considerations outlined in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-103. Following our review, we affirm the trial court's alternative sentencing decision.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Kim R. Nelson, District Public Defender; and Harold D. Balcom, Jr. and Walter B. Johnson II, Assistant District Public Defenders, for the Appellant, Jeffery Dwight Ray.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Alyson Kennedy, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.




         On June 10, 2013, the sixteen-year-old victim reported that her uncle, the forty-six-year-old Defendant, raped her. Thereafter, a Morgan County grand jury charged the Defendant with aggravated statutory rape, a Class D felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-506. He entered an "open" guilty plea on February 24, 2016.[1]

         The trial court originally set the Defendant's sentencing hearing for May 23, 2016, but he failed to appear. After a capias was issued for the Defendant's arrest, his presence was secured, and a sentencing hearing was held on June 24, 2016. At the hearing, the presentence report was entered as an exhibit, the Defendant stipulating to its admission.

         From the presentence report, we glean the following details surrounding the events: On the evening of June 9, 2013, the victim was visiting her aunt and uncle who lived next door. The Defendant's friend, "Rusty, "[2] was also present in the home, and according to the victim, everyone present was drinking and watching television. Sometime that evening, the victim and Rusty went upstairs to the attic and started "making out." She stated that she performed oral sex on Rusty but that he did not want to go any further because she was a minor. According to the victim, when the Defendant came upstairs and saw what was going on between the victim and Rusty, the Defendant "pulled his penis out and told [the victim] he wanted what Rusty got." The victim, however, told the Defendant "no, " and the three of them went back downstairs and continued watching television and drinking.

         Later, Rusty left the residence; the victim's aunt went to take a shower; and the victim went back upstairs to listen to music. The victim stated that the Defendant, thereafter, came upstairs and sat beside her, again asking for sex. She once more said "no, " but according to the victim, the Defendant forced her to perform oral sex on him and then raped her. After the Defendant "finished, " she told him that she had to use the bathroom. Instead of going to the bathroom, she ran home and told her grandmother that the Defendant had raped her.

         The victim was taken to the hospital and examined, and while there, a nurse administered a sexual assault kit. A saliva sample was also taken form the Defendant. In a report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, it was concluded that the Defendant was a "major contributor" to DNA profiles found in the victim's underwater.

         When questioned by the authorities, the Defendant denied any sexual contact with the victim, and the Defendant provided a vastly different story from the victim's. The Defendant claimed that the victim "stalked" him and his wife for six months prior to the offense, frequently stealing from him and making sexual advances towards him and his wife. According to the Defendant, on the evening of June 9, 2013, the victim "busted in" on him, his wife, and Rusty. When the victim was told to go home, she stole alcohol from Rusty's truck. However, she later returned and would not leave.

         The Defendant claimed that he found the victim and Rusty engaged in sexual intercourse in his attic later that evening. According to the Defendant, he cursed at them and instructed the victim to put her clothes back on. The Defendant stated that, while he continued uttering profanities at Rusty, he pulled his pants down and told Rusty to "kiss [his] a-s, " showing Rusty "[his] a-s to kiss." ...

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