Bates' appeal denied

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A man who was convicted last year on rape and other charges by a Marshall County jury this month lost in his challenge of his conviction and the length of his sentence.

David C. Bates, 33, was sentenced in May 2009 to 22 years in prison, without the chance of parole, for the May 2008 aggravated rape and beating of a 34-year-old woman, and injury to her 8-year-old son.

In his petition to the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Public Defender's office acting for Bates argued that the evidence presented at the four-day trial was "insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred when it set the length of his sentence."

At his trial, Bates took the stand in his own defense, stating that the sex was consensual, and that he only hit the victim in self-defense, after she hit him.

Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer, writing for the appeals court, commented, "The jury heard the defendant's testimony and clearly did not credit it. It is not within this court's discretion to reweigh and determine the credibility of witnesses... Accordingly, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions beyond a reasonable doubt."

The three-judge panel also upheld Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler's decision on the length of Bates' sentence.

The length of sentence allowed for a conviction for aggravated rape is 15 to 25 years, and the appeals court decided that Crigler had correctly applied the enhancement factors in setting a sentence close to the upper limit. These factors include a previous criminal history (misdemeanor offences in Giles County), criminal conduct (using illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine), and failure to comply with conditions of probation. Bates was on probation when he charged with the crimes in Marshall County.

The pre-sentence report by Jim Grimes of the Board of Probation and Parole, and a psychosexual evaluation by Tim K. McConkey M.Ed., paint a disturbing picture.

McConkey thinks Bates' long-term use of, and dependence on, drugs has had "an indelible effect on him emotionally and has affected his behavior," and notes, "Bates recognizes his low threshold for anger."

Grimes quotes Bates as saying, "I am in jail over something I did not do. I tend to hear voices sometimes. It has got me messed up. People lied on me on the stand. It makes me sick how people lie."

McConkey wrote that Bates told him, "He was guilty of assault, but he denied that he raped the victim and offered that he 'did not have to rape her' as they had a consensual sexual relationship. Bates also offered that the victim was widely considered 'a whore' who would exchange sex for drugs."

After a thorough evaluation, McConkey concluded that Bates' "primary defense mechanism appears to be rooted in assigning blame to others or in manipulating information to serve an agenda."