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Sentencing again delayed for Sullivan County man convicted of rape, attempted murder, kidnapping

Kacie Breeding • Oct 26, 2012 at 10:50 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — A Bristol man’s sentencing on charges he kidnapped, raped and tried to kill a 35-year-old woman has been postponed again, with his attorney citing an errant missive in support of the reset.

Johnny Royston Sr., 62, 6143 Highway 421, had been scheduled to be sentenced for attempted second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated kidnapping Friday afternoon in Sullivan County Criminal Court.

The hearing was moved to Dec. 20 after attorney Randy Fleming advised he had not received one of two letters Royston said he had mailed to his office sometime prior to Oct. 12. Fleming said Royston told him the letter contained a list of at least seven witnesses he wants to testify at his hearing, along with a map to assist in locating those people.

Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus advised he was skeptical of the relevance of these witnesses but agreed Fleming should have time to determine the relevance.

Royston was convicted following a jury trial in May. He faces a possible sentence of eight to 12 years on count one and 15 to 25 years at 100 percent on each of counts two through five. The six-man, six-woman jury also recommended $200,000 in fines.

Royston was tried on one count of attempted first-degree murder and two counts each of aggravated rape and especially aggravated kidnapping. The judge amended one of the kidnapping counts to aggravated kidnapping — finding prosecutors had not proven serious bodily injury occurred — before the jury began deliberations.

At trial, the victim testified about her struggle to survive and escape Royston’s control in the early morning hours of Aug. 23, 2010. She described waking up to find she was naked and bound with ropes about her neck, wrists and ankles as Royston was raping her on the floor of his rented camper off Highway 421.

When she tried to fight him, he yanked the ropes about her neck and covered her mouth and nose with his hand, leaving her fighting to stay conscious. She testified she escaped after smashing a coffeepot into Royston’s head.

She testified she suffered “busted blood vessels” in her eyes; rope burns on her neck, arms and legs; and carpet burns and bruising on various parts of her body. An optometrist testified the woman had also suffered iritis, a painful inflammation of the inner eye that could have led to blindness if untreated.

Prosecutors argued Royston plotted to kidnap, rape and kill the woman and that he had drugged her to facilitate his plans.

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