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State v. Roberts

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

April 5, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
MICHAEL EDWARD ROBERTS

          Session November 7, 2017

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Obion County No. CC-16-CR-125 Jeffrey W. Parham, Judge

         The Defendant, Michael Edward Roberts, was indicted on one count of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; one count of aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; seven counts of rape, a Class B felony; and one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102, -13-304, -13-503, -14-403. The State ultimately dismissed five of the rape charges. Following a bench trial, the trial court convicted the Defendant of aggravated assault and the lesser-included offenses of aggravated criminal trespass of a habitation, a Class A misdemeanor, and two counts of assault, a Class B misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-301(a)(3), -14-406. The trial court acquitted the Defendant of the aggravated kidnapping charge. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of three years to be served on supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions and (2) that the trial court erred in admitting fresh complaint evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Charles S. Kelly, Sr., Dyersburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Edward Roberts.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Thomas A. Thomas, District Attorney General; and James T. Cannon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Camille R. McMullen and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The victim, E.M., [1] testified that she and the Defendant were coworkers and had engaged in a lengthy sexual relationship. The victim testified that during the course of their relationship, the Defendant began to regularly beat her buttocks until she bled when they had sex. The victim explained that the Defendant first used his hand but later switched to using a belt. It was around this time that the victim decided to end her relationship with the Defendant. However, the victim testified that the Defendant "would not take no for an answer."

         While she was attempting to end her relationship with the Defendant, the victim began a second relationship with another coworker, Mark Sering. The victim testified that the Defendant became suspicious of the victim and Mr. Sering and started "going ballistic" after seeing a picture that Mr. Sering posted on Facebook of the victim in her car. This eventually led to an altercation between Mr. Sering and the Defendant at their workplace on January 14, 2016.

         The victim testified that she texted both Mr. Sering and the Defendant after their altercation to reveal that she had been seeing both of them and to end her relationship with each of them. According to the victim, she was on her way to work the next morning, January 15, 2016, when she received a phone call from the Defendant. The victim testified that the Defendant told her that if she did not turn around and go back to her trailer, "there was gonna be really big problems at work."

         According to the victim, the Defendant met her at a nearby exit and followed her to her trailer. The victim testified that she agreed to the Defendant's demands. She said that she was scared of the Defendant because even though he had never "put his hands on" her, he had threatened her and Mr. Sering. The victim further testified that she planned to talk to the Defendant in her yard and to go back to work.

         Once they were at the victim's trailer, the Defendant got out of his car and punched the hood of the victim's car. The victim testified that the Defendant then threatened to punch the window of her car if she did not get out. The victim believed that the Defendant was intoxicated. According to the victim, she got out of her car and the Defendant told her to go into the trailer.

         The victim testified that she had not planned to let the Defendant into her trailer that morning and that she never gave the Defendant permission to enter the trailer. The victim further testified that after she got out of her car, the Defendant "had [her] by the throat [and was] trying to push [her] in the house." According to the victim, the Defendant pushed her so hard it bent her door key as she attempted to unlock the door.

         The victim testified that once they were inside the trailer, the Defendant "threw [her] towards [the] kitchen, " then grabbed her by her hair, and pulled her to the bedroom. Inside the bedroom, the Defendant told the victim to undress and threatened to rip her clothes off when she hesitated. The victim testified that she took off her shirt while the Defendant undressed and that the Defendant then removed her pants and underwear.

         According to the victim, the Defendant grabbed her by her hair and threw her "on the bed face down and started . . . to rape [her]." The victim explained that the Defendant held her down "by the back of [her] neck" and penetrated her vagina with his penis. According to the victim, the Defendant asked her if "this [was] how [Mr. Sering] [did] this" while the Defendant penetrated her. The victim testified that this lasted for approximately fifteen minutes until the Defendant ejaculated.

         The victim testified that the Defendant raped her five or six times during the course of the day. The victim further testified that she repeatedly tried to leave the trailer, but that the Defendant prevented her from doing so by taking her keys, hiding her pants, and physically restraining her. According to the victim, the Defendant choked her until she blacked out ...


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