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State v. Davis

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 14, 2018


          Session February 13, 2018

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 18139 Forest A. Durard, Jr., Judge

         A Bedford County jury convicted the Defendant, Steven W. Davis, of attempted rape and attempted incest. The trial court imposed an effective six-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it sentenced him by misapplying an enhancement factor and by denying his request for alternative sentencing. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

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

          Jason R. Reeves, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven W. Davis.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Alexander C. Vey, Assistant Attorney General; Robert J. Carter, District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., joined.



         I. Facts

         This case arises from allegations that the Defendant raped his granddaughter by digitally penetrating her when she was fourteen years old. For this offense, a Bedford County Grand Jury charged the Defendant with rape and incest.

         At the Defendant's trial, the parties presented the following evidence: The victim's mother testified that she had two children, the victim and her brother, and that the Defendant was her father. Her children spent a lot of time with the Defendant and his wife, their grandmother. The victim looked up to the Defendant, and he in turn was protective of her. The Defendant and his wife owned a store where the victim's mother worked, and she often brought her children to do school work in a back room of the store while she worked. The victim's mother took her children to the store on December 26, 2013; the Defendant was there and his wife was not. The Defendant asked if the victim could help him price merchandise in one of the back rooms. The room had a door.

         Three days later, after the victim spent the night at a friend's house, the friend's mother approached the victim's mother and asked to have a private conversation with her. During that conversation, the victim's mother learned of something "upsetting" that the victim had said had occurred between the Defendant and the victim. A group meeting with the victim's mother, the victim, their pastor, and the friend's mother was held, during which the victim affirmed that inappropriate physical contact had happened between she and the Defendant. At the end of the meeting, the victim's mother notified law enforcement.

         The victim testified that she was fourteen years old at the time of the events in question. She said she had spent her entire life around the Defendant and saw him daily. She loved him and considered him her best friend. On December 26, 2013, while at the Defendant's store, the victim and the Defendant were alone in the back room, pricing merchandise. The Defendant closed the door to the room and locked it. The Defendant hugged the victim and, at some point during the hug, he put his hands inside the victim's pants and underwear and touched her bottom. The victim testified that this had happened before. He rubbed his hands on her bottom, touching the skin, and then he moved his hands to the victim's front and touched her vagina. His fingers went inside her vagina. The victim did not want the Defendant to touch her this way. It lasted approximately two minutes and made the victim feel "awful."

         Later that same day, the Defendant took the victim back into the room, closed the door, and put his hands on her breasts under her bra. The Defendant asked the victim if he could touch her again, and she said "no." The next day, the victim told a friend what had happened, and the friend's mother told the victim's mother.

         The victim testified that about a year before these events occurred, the Defendant asked to look at the victim's vagina because he was "curious, " so the victim took off her clothes and let him look.

         The victim's aunt testified that she confronted the Defendant, her father, in a telephone conversation about what he had done. The Defendant told her he was sorry and that he "only touched" the victim and did not have intercourse with her.

         Detective Carol Jean, a Shelbyville Police Department detective, stated that she investigated this case, starting by interviewing the victim's mother and later interviewing the victim. Detective Jean described the victim as traumatized and very upset, and said that it was "extremely difficult" for the victim to talk about what had happened. The victim described the Defendant's sexual conduct to Detective Jean consistently with the victim's testimony at trial.

         Detective Jean interviewed the Defendant on February 6, 2014, which was recorded on video. A portion of the video was played for the jury, during which the Defendant denied digitally penetrating the victim.

         Based upon this evidence, the jury convicted the Defendant of attempted rape and attempted incest.

         B. Sentencing

         The following evidence was presented at the sentencing hearing: The victim's mother testified that she knew the Defendant had had an affair in the past and to her knowledge it was with a teenage girl. She testified that him touching the victim in December of 2013 was not an isolated incident and that it had happened before. The victim's mother stated that the Defendant needed to be incarcerated to prevent him from touching another child. The victim went to counseling after the incident for almost a year and was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the aftermath of the incident, the victim had trouble sleeping, had nightmares, and was afraid of seeing the Defendant out in ...

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