The trial of Jeremy Caraway wrapped up Wednesday with the defendant being found guilty of rape.
The jury recommended a sentence of five years on each count to run concurrently, for a total of 20 years in prison. This was the maximum sentence allowed.
Caraway, 38, of Loyall, is the former pastor of Loyall Church of God. He was indicted on two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of second-degree sodomy, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor and one count of use of an electronic communications system to procure a minor for a sexual offense. He was arrested on the charges in May 2011.
The second day of testimony began in front of Judge Robert McGinnis at 9 a.m., with the defense presenting their case.
Caraway’s attorney Linda West called Jacob Doyle to the stand. Doyle was the youth pastor at Loyall Church of God at the time of the incident.
Doyle testified said he could not attest to the defendant’s cell phone use.
Under cross examination by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Karen Davenport, Doyle stated that he left the church in June of 2011 due to threats he had received because of the allegations against the defendant. Doyle further testified that both he and his wife had felt there was something “going on” with the victim.
Doyle stated he had changed his opinion on Caraway since the defendant’s arrest, and had apologized to the victim’s family for “missing things.”
Former Loyall Church of God maintenance worker Ronnie Reed was called to the stand.
Reed testified he had heard the victim state that she would “get even” with Jeremy Caraway. Reed said he resigned from his position with the church about nine days after the charges came to light due to threats he received.
Monica Caraway, the wife of the defendant, was the last witness called by West.
Monica Caraway testified she was with her husband all day on May 21 and did not see him texting that day.
When asked about the 24 pages of Facebook messages between the defendant and the victim, Monica Caraway stated she had not read them. The state had entered the messages as evidence against Jeremy Caraway on Tuesday.
Davenport questioned Monica Caraway about an incident of attempting to open a day care center in her home after Jeremy Caraway had been released on bond. Monica Caraway stated she had not attempted to open a day care, but had intended to baby-sit in her home. She stated she had always done babysitting to make extra money.
When Davenport asked Monica Caraway if she thought that was an appropriate thing to do under the circumstances, Monica Caraway responded she “didn’t think anything about it because I didn’t think he was guilty.”
West rested her case without calling Jeremy Caraway to the stand.
McGinnis asked the defendant if he understood he had the right to testify if he wished.
Jeremy Caraway acknowledged he did understand and did not wish to testify.
West stated in her closing argument to the jury that the prosecution had not proven her client was guilty.
According to West, Facebook messages alone did not prove guilt, and the state had supplied no physical evidence.
West also said the victim was obsessed with Jeremy Caraway and had made her claims in order to “get even” with him because their relationship had not developed in the way she wished.
West told the jury that if they felt that all that happened was Facebook messaging, they had to find the defendant not guilty.
Davenport disagreed with West.
In her closing, Davenport pointed out the victim had given detailed accounts of all the instances of abuse, something a child would not normally do.
“This child gave you details no child should know,” stated Davenport.
Davenport stated the Facebook messages talked about specific sex acts.
“It’s not just the fact they exchanged messages — it’s what they said,” stated Davenport.
The jury reached a verdict shortly after lunch.
Jeremy Caraway was found guilty of second-degree rape, second-degree sodomy, and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse.
The jury found him not guilty on another count of second-degree rape.
All other charges against the defendant were dismissed.
Caraway was remanded into custody to await formal sentencing on Aug. 1.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510, ext. 113, email@example.com