Jury trial term begins, Tucker gets split verdict on rape charges

Published 7:27 pm Wednesday, April 9, 2014

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

A Lowndes County jury found Dennis Lee Tucker, 29, of Tyler, not guilty of rape in the first degree, but guilty of rape in the second degree Wednesday afternoon.

The alleged rape occurred in 2011 when the victim was 12-years-old, according to information presented in court.

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After an indication the jury might not be able to reach a verdict in the case, Circuit Court Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell told the jury if they could not agree, a mistrial would be granted. However, she encouraged the jury to reach a verdict if possible.

She later denied a request from the jury to have testimony of the victim read back and District Attorney Charlotte M. Tesmer withdrew a request to have the testimony played on audio.

Tesmer said, “They wanted to hear the victim’s testimony again. We don’t know why…” She explained that it was not presented to the jury again because “it could not be accurately read to them or recorded.”

Following the verdict, defense attorney Mickey McDermott said, “We are glad the jury found that there was not forcible rape in finding him (Tucker) not guilty of rape in the first degree.”

He also said, “We believe that the rape in the second degree will be reversed on appeal.”

He confirmed Tucker does plan to appeal the guilty verdict.

Tesmer said, “We’re pleased with the one verdict. We hoped for two verdicts of guilty, but we honor whatever the jury decided.”

She said she did not know if the verdicts would have been different if the jury had heard the victim’s testimony again.

According to Alabama Code, for rape in the second degree, a person 16-years-old or older, engages in sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex less than 16 and more than 12 years old, provided, the actor is at least two years older than the member of the opposite sex.

Assistant District Attorney Nicki Miller said, “She is a child” of the victim in the case during her closing argument. The victim was 12 at the time of alleged rape in 2011.

Miller also pointed out that rape in the first degree involves force or threat of force.

McDermott characterized the case as “he said, she said” and called it a “family dispute.”

Tucker will be sentenced on May 7th. He was returned into the custody of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams.

In other court cases:

Tuesday, Tesmer said Leonard Tyson, approximately 56, of Hayneville pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property in the second degree.

She said Tyson received a sentence of 16 years split to serve three years with five years probation.

According to the Lowndes County Clerk Clerk’s Office, Tyson was ordered to pay a $500 fine, pay $100 to crime victims and court costs of $352.

Tesmer said she was “pleased with the plea.”

Thursday, Bozeman declared a mistrial in the case of Horace Williams, 52, of Hayneville, who was charged with sodomy in the first degree and sodomy in the second degree.

Tesmer said each side in the case filed discovery motions, and certain information is supposed to be given to each side.

“The defense offered some testimony from a DHR worker that the state was not aware of that was discoverable, and we should have had it before hand,” Tesmer said.

She said a hearing was held on the matter, “And the judge decided that it should have been provided and therefore we got a mistrial.”

Tesmer said the case should be retried in October. Williams was represented by McDermott.