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State v. Nelson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 16, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs September 13, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Coffee County No. 40156 Paul G. Summers, Senior Judge

         Following a trial, a Coffee County jury found the Defendant, Billy Joe Nelson, guilty of aggravated rape, carjacking, robbery, and two counts of aggravated kidnapping. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to a total effective sentence of thirty years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges whether the State sufficiently proved his identity as the perpetrator of the offenses. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Jeremy W. Parham, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Billy Joe Nelson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Alexander C. Vey, Assistant Attorney General; Craig Northcott, District Attorney General; Kristy K. West and Jason Michael Ponder, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.



         Factual and Procedural History

         On December 31, 2012, the victim[1] celebrated New Year's Eve at the 41 South Sports Bar and Grill ("41 South") in Manchester where her husband and his band were performing for patrons of the bar. After their show ended, sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. on January 1, the victim's husband needed to help the band take down equipment and load it onto a trailer. The victim was tired and wanted to go to sleep, so her husband escorted her to their car, which was parked in a well-lit parking lot beside the bar, so that she could sleep in the car while he loaded the equipment. Because it was cold outside, the victim started the car and turned on the heat. She reclined in the passenger seat, pulled a coat up over her lap, and fell asleep. Sometime later, the victim awoke to find that the car was "in motion, " and a man was talking. When she turned over, the victim discovered that the Defendant was driving her car down Highway 55 towards Tullahoma. The victim did not know the Defendant and had never seen him before. The Defendant asked her, "Where did you think you were going, b****, you've been flirting with me all night, did you think you would get away from me[?]" The Defendant then said, "[C]ome here, b****, and suck my d***[.]" The Defendant, whose blue jeans were opened, grabbed the back of the victim's head and forced her mouth onto his penis. As he continued to drive, the Defendant forced the victim to perform oral sex.

         The Defendant pulled into a dark parking lot near Manchester High School. When the car stopped, the victim opened her car door and attempted to get out, but the Defendant grabbed her by the hair and pulled her towards him, saying, "[W]here are you going, b****, I'm not through with you, you're a rich b****, I'm going to rape you up the a**, do you understand that[?]" He pulled out clumps of the victim's hair and bit her face under her left eye, causing her to let go of the car door. The Defendant also told the victim that he had a gun as he pulled her back into the car. He then made the victim pull down her pants, and he penetrated her vagina with his finger as he drove back onto Highway 55.

         The victim later explained that she had "never felt pain like that before" and that she eventually "just gave in." The Defendant told her to pull up her sweater, and she did. He then pulled up her bra and "pinched [her] nipple." The Defendant asked her several times if she wanted to see his gun, but she "kept saying no[.]" The Defendant referred to the victim several times as "rich b****, " so the victim asked the Defendant if he wanted money. The victim grabbed her purse from the backseat and told the Defendant that she could give him money. She retrieved her wallet, took out credit cards and gift cards, and attempted to give them to the Defendant. At the same time, the victim realized that she had her cell phone in the purse, and she called 911. When the dispatcher answered the call, however, it could be heard over the car's speakers because the cell phone was connected to the car through Bluetooth technology. The call to 911 was disconnected, but moments later, the victim's husband called her cell phone. The Defendant was angry that the victim was using her cell phone, and the victim's husband heard the victim saying, "[P]lease, don't shoot me." The victim's husband then hung up and called 911.

         The victim begged the Defendant to take her to her credit union, which was in a well-traveled part of town. Instead, the Defendant drove to the ATM at Citizens Tri-County Bank, where he demanded the victim's ATM card. When she could not find the card in her wallet, she again requested that they go to the credit union. The Defendant backed out of the parking lot and drove towards the credit union. However, the Defendant made a U-turn and "started flying" down the road. Eventually, the Defendant stopped the car and opened the driver's side door. The lights came on inside the car, and the victim saw that her credit cards and business cards were "everywhere" in the car. The Defendant leaned over and picked up cards off the floorboard. He then demanded the victim's jewelry, and she gave him her wedding ring and an heirloom diamond ring. The Defendant told her, "I know where you live, b****, . . . don't move your head for ten minutes[, ] or I will f***ing blow it off."

         When the Defendant got out of the car, the victim locked the doors and "just sat there." The victim's husband called again and asked the victim where she was, but she was "hysterical" and said she had "no idea[.]" Her husband convinced her to get in the driver's seat and leave the area. The victim noticed a dumpster in front of her car that said "Dossert use only." She then told her husband that she was at Dossert Apartments in Tullahoma. The victim called 911a second time as she was driving to the police station. She told the 911 dispatcher that she felt "out of control and shaky" and like she "should not be driving." Officers intercepted the victim's car, and she was taken by ambulance to Harton Regional Medical Center. The victim was "very upset. . . [and] terrified." At the hospital, the victim was treated for her injuries, including an abrasion on her ...

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