KNOXVILLE, TN. (WLAF)- Marty Ray’s 90-year sentence for repeatedly raping a child was recently upheld by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. In his appeal, Ray challenged the number of times the victim testified he had raped her was more than he was indicted for in the case. He also protested about a juror who had a limited level of English proficiency having to be struck from the jury by his attorney instead of dismissed by the court.
The appeals court ruled that no error had occurred in either instance leaving Ray to serve his sentence.
A Campbell County Grand Jury indicted Ray on 33 counts of rape of a child. In 14 of the counts, Ray was accused of continually raping a six-year-old child over a two year period. That is the case he was appealing; the other charges weren’t a part of this trial.
As the victim told her story to the jury, she listed more than 20 occasions when Ray had raped her at his LaFollette home. When prosecutors rested their case, Ray’s court appointed attorney, Bill Jones, moved for a mistrial, according to court records. The “uncharged conduct” presented by victim was out of bounds, tainting the jury pool.
Eighth Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton denied the request assuring all he would provide jury instructions to not consider any allegations not mentioned in the indictment. The jury was further told to consider each charge individually based on the proof presented to them.
Ray and his attorney didn’t present a defense to the jury.
Justices on the appeals court noted that a mistrial is “only appropriate when a trial cannot continue without causing a miscarriage of justice.” It is also the responsibility of the party seeking a mistrial to prove it is needed, and in this case, that didn’t happen. Sexton instructed the jury properly, the record said. The higher court also noted the jury acquitted Ray of three of the counts.
Regarding the juror with limited English skills, Ray claimed an error had occurred when she wasn’t released by the court causing his side to have to remove her, thus using one of their jury strikes. Using that one challenge “deprived him of a fair trial” because it provided the state an “unfair advantage,” Ray’s attorneys argued. The higher court declined that argument saying Ray did have “an impartial jury” at his trial.
The juror in question did speak English and had worked as restaurant manager, the court record said. It was noted she had a concern about understanding legal terms. Sexton said that was a challenge for most jurors; she was able to take part in the jury seating process without any issues. He was deemed the person who could have judged if her English could have been an issue at trial. In the end, she didn’t serve as juror and Ray didn’t show that any of the other jurors who did were “incompetent or biased.”
Ray is serving his sentence at the Whiteville, Tennessee, Correctional Facility in Hardeman County. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED- 05/18/2020- 6AM)