KNOXVILLE — A state appeals court has denied a petition by Teddy Robbins Jr., meaning that the Scott County man will continue to serve a 50-year prison sentence for kidnapping and raping his wife.
Robbins, 44, was indicted by a Scott County grand jury in 2009 and was later convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his wife over a period of hours at their home on Howard Jeffers Lane in Helenwood.
His attorney, Clarence Pridemore Jr., of Knoxville, filed an appeal on Robbins' behalf, seeking to have the conviction overturned. In an opinion delivered by Judge Jerry L. Smith, of the Tennessee Court of Appeals at Knoxville, the higher court upheld the conviction in Scott County Criminal Court.
According to evidence that was presented at Robbins' original trial in Scott County, Robbins assaulted his wife physically and sexually over a 24-hour period from Feb. 21, 2009, to Feb. 22, 2009. The woman initially told Scott County Sheriff's Department officers responding to the home where she and her husband lived with their two children that she had not been sexually assaulted. Two days later, however, she provided investigators with additional details.
At the trial, witnesses testified that Robbins' wife woke up on the morning of Feb. 21, 2009, because he was yelling at her. He began beating her that morning, and stopped her when she attempted to flee the home with her children by chasing her down and catching her, after which he forced her back into their mobile home and continued to beat her.
After threatening to kill her parents and assaulting her with a knife, Robbins became angry after believing that he saw a law enforcement officer outside the home and renewed his physical assault on his wife, according to testimony at the trial. From 7 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 21 until 4 a.m. the next morning, he sexually assaulted her. Eventually, he fell asleep and his wife was able to use a hidden cell phone to call police.
Robbins' attorney argued that a mistrial should have been declared during the original trial in Scott County Criminal Court because a juror approached then-District Attorney General Wm. Paul Phillips and hugged him. Criminal Court Judge E. Shayne Sexton ordered a hearing on the matter at the time, and the juror — who said she hugged Phillips because he was her cousin — was excused from the trial. The court polled the remaining jurors, who said they did not discuss the case with the dismissed juror, and Sexton denied Robbins' motion for a mistrial.
At the conclusion of the trial, Robbins was sentenced to 25 years for especially aggravated kidnapping and 25 years for aggravated rape, to be served consecutively for an effective prison sentence of 50 years.
Robbins initially appealed to Criminal Court for a new trial, which was rejected by Judge Sexton, leading to the appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, where he also argued that evidence against him was insufficient for a conviction because the knife referred to in testimony was not recovered.
In delivering the Appeals Court's ruling, Judge Jerry L. Smith wrote that "The victim was able to describe the knife to the jury and recounted exactly how (Robbins) used the knife while he raped and beat her. The officers who responded to the scene saw 'poke' marks around the victim's neckline, and the victim told the officers that (Robbins) threatened her with a knife." He added, "Physical evidence is not a prerequisite to a conviction."
The appeals court also opined that Sexton acted appropriately in denying the initial motion for a mistrial.
Robbins is currently housed at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City. His sentence is not scheduled to end until July 2057.