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Sex offender sentenced

From The Citizen Tribune -

A violent Hamblen County sex offender profoundly implicated in two sexual assaults involving underage girls ended his cases in Hamblen County Criminal Court on Wednesday May 29th with plea agreements and a 21-year state prison term, authorities say.

40 year old Billy Jack Jarnagin, pled guilty to three counts of attempted child rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery and violation of the sex offender registry law. He will have to serve at least 85 percent of the 21-year sentence before he’s eligible for parole, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be released at that time.

Assistant District Attorney General David Gratz said this morning that a primary objective in negotiating a deal with Jarnagin was preventing the victims from having to testify. “I think justice was absolutely served because there’s always a possibility of a not-guilty verdict,” Gratz said. “Nobody had to testify and there was no risk.”

Sentencing math was also a factor in the plea deal. The top-of-the-range punishment for child rape is 25 years behind bars, just four more than Jarnagin got by selective stacking of the sentences.

Morristown Police Department Detective Lt. Vicki Arnold, MPD Detective Phil Hurst and Third Judicial District criminal investigators Teddy Collingsworth and Bob Ellis played a role in the criminal inquiry.

Jarnagin was ordered to stay away from children after he was convicted of attempted aggravated sexual battery in 2001. He violated the terms of his lifetime supervision when he came into contact with the girl in the attempted child-rape case. Jarnagin began sexually abusing her when she was around 12, according to Gratz.

Gratz says the girl called police and reported that Jarnagin had threatened to harm her. When it came to light that Jarnagin was a convicted sex offender, she was placed into state custody. During a forensic interview, the girl detailed the sexual abuse, according to Collingsworth.

Jarnagin used subterfuge to gain access to the other victim, who was 6 years old when he began abusing her. Because he is a convicted sex offender, Jarnagin lied about his identity when he befriended the girl’s parents. He would sometimes stop by to say good night to the children, according to Hurst.

During one visit, the mother noticed that Jarnagin had been in her daughter’s bedroom for a long time. When she entered the dark room, the mother heard the sound of a kiss. The next day, the 6-year-old told her mother that Jarnagin both kissed her and touched her genitals, according to Hurst.

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