A man convicted in Rutherford County on three counts of “Rape of a Child,” filed an appeal with the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Jorge Pena is currently serving a sentence of 40-years in prison. He was also convicted on three counts of “Aggravated Sexual Battery.”
Pena claimed in his January appeal that the court erred in qualifying a local police officer as an expert in translating the Spanish language. Evidently, the officer translated phone calls between Pena and the mother of the 12-year old victim (see below).
Despite attempts to proceed with a new trial, the court of appeals sided with the courtroom of Judge Royce Taylor in Rutherford County. The case will not move forward and Pena will remain in prison.
The denial was officially filed on October 7, 2020.
Court Documents Showed (Regarding the Phone Calls):
In the first call, Officer Chang described the Defendant’s demeanor as “somewhat calm” and cooperative. The victim’s mother asked the Defendant, “Why did you do it?” Officer Chang translated the Defendant’s response as, “I asked myself the same thing.” The victim’s mother also confronted the Defendant “with the fact that he had told her the night before that it had happened three times?” Officer Chang translated the Defendant’s response as, “he told her that because … she was so upset. So, he wanted to calm her down.”
Officer Chang testified that the Defendant’s demeanor changed in the second phone call. The Defendant became “more argumentative” and “denied everything.” At this point, the Defendant insisted on meeting the victim’s mother face to face, and Officer Chang was suspicious that the Defendant knew the victim’s mother was calling from the police station.
Pena’s sentence began on February 16, 2016. Pena will be 74-years old when he is released from prison.