In 2013, Jernigan was arrested outside of Hobgood Elementary School and charged with 15 counts each of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor.
After the case went to trial, the former Murfreesboro City Schools band teacher was convicted on six counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. In 2017, he was sentenced to thirty years in prison.
According to the courts, his sentence was scheduled to end in 2044 – ten months before Jernigan turns 67 years old.
Despite a reported confession, multiple text messages and photographs, the case will have to go back before the courts.
Jernigan filed an appeal saying that the State failed to disclose the existence of a “notebook” that contained 6,000 texts between the victim and Jernigan. The appeal shows, “He additionally argues that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to advise the Petitioner of the existence of the notebook thereby resulting in the Petitioner’s rejection of a four-year offer by the State to settle the case.”
The case against Jernigan was originally opened after a Lawrence County Sheriff’s detective learned a concerned parent at the victim’s school thought the band teacher and the victim were having an inappropriate relationship. After an investigation and arrest, Jernigan pleaded guilty before a Lawrence County court to one count of sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means and received a two-year sentence to be served on probation. Six months later, he was indicted by a Rutherford County Grand Jury on forty-five charges dealing with his involvement with a teen.
The case was investigated in Lawrence County by the Sheriff’s Office and in Rutherford County by the Murfreesboro Police Department.
Documents filed on Friday (August 14, 2020) in the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee state, “Upon our review, we vacate the Petitioner’s convictions, reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court, and remand this matter for a new trial.”
No new court date has been announced at this point as the reversal of judgement was only filed this past Friday.
State v. LaVar Jernigan, No. M2016-00507-CCA-R3-CD
2017 WL 1019513, Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 15, 2017
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