A Smithville man stood trial Wednesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court for the rape of a child but a jury of eight women and four men found him guilty of the lesser offense of aggravated sexual battery.
Judge Leon Burns, Jr. presided over the trial.
44 year old Kenneth Lee Moore, facing a possible prison term of eight to twelve years, will be sentenced on May 17. Had he been convicted as charged in the indictment for rape of a child, Moore could have been sentenced to a minimum of twenty five years in prison. The jury deliberated for more than four hours before returning their verdict.
"We're satisfied with the verdict that we got today," said Deputy District Attorney General Greg Strong in an interview with WJLE. "This will require eight to twelve years of service in the penitentiary at 85% before release eligibility. It is really considered a 100% sentence but he can qualify for up to a 15% sentence reduction. Moore will be on community supervision for life as a sex offender. This will put the victim well into her adult years before he (Moore) is ever eligible for parole.
According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Moore allegedly raped his twelve year old niece on November 15th, 2010. The child, who was living with Moore at the time, awoke from sleep to find Moore allegedly making sexual contact with her.
"The basic facts of the case were that Moore accomplished oral sex with his twelve year old niece who was living with him at the time due to a hardship that her mother had, "said Strong. "She (victim's mother) had lost her job and she had to move in with the defendant (Moore). He took advantage of this young girl," said Strong.
The victim was one of three witnesses to testify for the prosecution during the trial Wednesday, along with the girl's mother and Detective Mike Billings of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. " I would like to say that she (victim) is a strong girl," said Strong. " I'm proud of her for what she did in this case. This is obviously not something that a twelve year old wants to go through. She held her head up and she was strong and she is the reason we got the verdict that we got," said Strong.
The defense called one witness, a juvenile relative of the victim, in an attempt to discredit the victim as a witness, according to Deputy D.A. Strong. "She testified about the victim's truthfulness. She also testified that she didn't know the victim very well. I don't think the jury put much faith in that," said Strong.
Moore's attorney, Jason Hicks of Cookeville, in an interview with WJLE after the verdict said this was a case of "he said", "she said" without any corroborating evidence. "We're pleased that the jury did not find him guilty of rape of a child or the attempted rape of a child. Our position from the beginning was that Mr. Moore was not guilty of any of the charges so obviously we were shocked by that (verdict). The cases of this nature are very, very tough for all the parties involved. There is generally little corroborating evidence from any other witnesses and that makes them very tough for the courts to try. We presented our case as to the victim's credibility and her veracity of truthfulness and the jury saw it differently. But ultimately we plan to appeal this case and keep fighting on up to the next levels," said Hicks.
"I would like to say thank you to Detective Billings and the Sheriff's Department for the job they did investigating this case," said Deputy D.A. Strong. " I'd like to also say thank you to the child advocacy center in Cookeville. That's where the victim in the case went for what we call a forensic interview. Without those things adding up we would not have had much of a case here," he said.