Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Editor’s note: This story contains graphic details of a sexual assault case. Reader discretion is advised.
A Wilson man who was convicted Wednesday of raping a woman in 2017 will spend more than two decades in prison.
A jury found 21-year-old Tafari Battle guilty of first-degree forcible rape following a two-day trial in Wilson County Superior Court.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours before rendering their verdict Wednesday morning. There were seven women and five men on the jury.
Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner sentenced Battle to 20 to 29 years in prison. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life upon his release, which includes lifetime monitoring.
The co-defendant in the case, 22-year-old Emunta Carpenter, was convicted in February in connection to the sexual assault. A jury found Carpenter guilty of first-degree kidnapping and committing a first-degree forcible sex offense.
Carpenter was sentenced to roughly 8 to 14 years on the kidnapping charge and roughly 26 to 36 years on the sexual offense charge. The charges run consecutively.
Both men knew the victim in the case.
The Wilson Times does not name victims of sexual assault and is withholding details that could otherwise identify the victim.
Earlier this week, the victim relived the harrowing experience as she testified on the witness stand. Through tears, she described what happened to her on July 17, 2017. At one point, she needed a break to gather her composure. The victim told jurors Carpenter, who had beat her with his fists and grip pliers, forced her to perform oral sex on him. Battle, who is Carpenter’s cousin, raped her, the victim testified.
Carpenter had taken the victim to a shed on a property inside the Wilson city limits where the sexual assaults took place, according to court testimony. The victim was able to escape but not before Carpenter allegedly ripped her hair out.
The sexual assault stemmed from a domestic situation between the victim and Carpenter earlier in the day.
The victim testified in both Carpenter’s and Battle’s trials.
Jurors also listened to a jarring audio recording of the incident that prosecutors introduced into evidence.
As the clerk read the verdict Wednesday in Battle’s trial, the victim cried and was comforted by domestic violence and sexual assault advocates. As Judge Sumner proceeded to sentence Battle, tears filled his eyes.
Battle’s supporters filled nearly every row on the defendant’s side of the courtroom. Battle was eventually led away by bailiffs and the proceeding concluded.
Several minutes later, sobs could be heard outside on the Wilson County Courthouse steps.