Jury finds Galax man guilty of rape

-A A +A

By Shaina Stockton, Staff

UPDATED 6/11/13: A jury has recommended a five-year prison sentence for Jimmy Linville, after he was found guilty in a Carroll County Circuit Court trial of raping a 12-year-old.
Linville, 52, of Galax, was arrested at his business, Tropical Tanning Salon, on March 28, 2012, after the Galax Police Department investigated a report from the minor and her family.
His jury trial was June 6 and 7. Linville will be sentenced at a hearing in Carroll County Circuit Court on June 18 at 1 p.m.


HILLSVILLE — Jimmy Ray Linville, 52, of Galax, was found guilty of rape of a child less than 13 years of age in a jury trial that began last Thursday and continued through Friday.
Linville was arrested at his business, Tropical Tanning Salon in Galax, on March 28, 2012, after the Galax Police Department investigated a report from the minor and her family.
Detective Robbie Isom of the Galax Police Department stated during the trial on June 6 in Carroll County Circuit Court that he was contacted by the minor and her family on the evening of March 25. After interviewing her and conducting an investigation, Isom went forward with the charges against Linville.

According to the minor’s testimony, she was under the care of Linville the evening of March 24, because her mother was out of town. After falling asleep that evening, she said that she woke up after Linville’s sexual assault had already begun.
It was noted that Linville was a friend of the minor’s family, and that she had stayed overnight with him often without any incident.
After the assault, she testified that Linville immediately left for work.
The minor texted someone to pick her up, then remained quiet about the incident throughout most of the day.
“I was afraid to tell my mom because I was scared she would do something stupid,” she told the court.
Throughout the rest of the day, she was dropped off at several locations with different family members, including at a birthday party. Later that evening, she told a male relative that Linville had raped her.
In his testimony, Joe Powers  — a client at Linville’s tanning salon — contradicted the minor’s statement by claiming that he saw her at the business on the morning of March 25.
He pointed out his name and the date on a sign-in sheet used to keep track of client visits at the salon. “She was lying down on the couch, watching television,” he said.
Her demeanor, he said, was calm.
Detective Isom told the court that he had referred the minor to Carilion Clinic for a medical examination to collect more evidence.
A search of Linville’s home, Isom said, turned up no additional evidence. “The place was cleaner than a hotel room,” he told the court.
A search warrant filed in the Carroll County Circuit Court listed items that were seized for evidence, including a laptop computer, a camera, a recorder, a hooded jacket and white socks. None of these items were mentioned during the trial.
April Bennett, the nurse who conducted the minor’s medical examination, discussed her findings at the trial, after Judge Brett Geisler reviewed her background and found her qualified to share her professional analysis.
An examination of the genital area revealed abrasions and possible bruising. However, due to the amount of time it took to schedule an appointment, there was no DNA evidence available at the time of the examination, Bennett said.
The minor's clothing had been washed, preventing DNA collection.
The minor had also stated that Linville held her by her wrists, but Bennett found no indications of bruises or other injury to that area.
Jay Tompkins, Linville’s attorney, contested Bennett’s findings. “I’m seeing question marks in your report, what does that mean?” he asked her.
Bennett explained that the question marks indicated “possible bruising,” and that she was unable to follow up with the minor to verify them.
Tompkins asked if the injuries could be from another source.
Yes, Bennett said, but when combining all injuries with the minor’s statement, she believed there to be proof of a sexual assault.
Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Jones called Joshua Lawson, a convicted felon who is currently serving time at New River Valley Regional Jail, to the witness stand.
Lawson stated that he was placed in a cell next to Linville, and that they had spoken to each other about their charges. He told the court that Linville admitted to a sexual incident with the minor, but that he had woken up to her on top of him, engaging in sex.
Isom also shared a statement with the court taken from Linville after he was arrested. At first, Linville denied ever touching the minor inappropriately. However, his answer changed after further questioning, saying, “I drink and black out at night, but I don’t think that I could have raped her.”
Isom asked if Linville thought that a jury would buy such a claim.
“No,” Linville replied in the statement.
In closing arguments, Tompkins pointed out discrepancies in testimony against his client.
“What you have been offered today are a bunch of statements,” he told the jury.
Bennett's findings, he said, did not provide conclusive proof.
Lawson, a convicted felon, was an “unreliable source.”
“This is the best they’ve got,” Tompkins said, adding that it wasn’t enough to prove guilt.
“One of these statements, I could understand there being a doubt.... even two statements,” Jones said in his rebuttal. “We have four witnesses, from all walks of life. All of [their statements] together, there can be no doubt.”
Jones also added that the minor had no motive to lie to the jury about what had happened.
The jury deliberated for close to three hours on Thursday evening. They requested a copy of the forensic report, which both attorneys turned in as a joint exhibit.
At 8:30 p.m., Geisler declared a recess until Friday at 9 a.m.
On Friday, the jury of 12 unanimously found Linville guilty of his charges.
Linville will be sentenced on June 18 at 1 p.m., at a hearing in Carroll County Circuit Court.