Judge schedules trial in May for man charged in two rapes

Becky Campbell • Feb 20, 2014 at 9:42 AM

A Kingsport man charged with two rapes in Johnson City that happened within a few hours of each other on the same night in September will go to trial on the cases in May.

Thomas Coburn, 46, who was indicted on rape, aggravated rape and criminal exposure to HIV, appeared in Washington County Criminal Court with his attorney, Bill Donaldson, on Wednesday.

According to Donaldson, he and Assistant District Attorney General Erin McArdle have been in talks trying to work the case out, but he had not had time to go over the state’s latest offer he received Wednesday morning.

“We received an offer today in response to a counteroffer we gave the state,” Donaldson told Judge Robert Cupp.

Donaldson and McArdle also told Cupp that results from a DNA sample to compare to a rape kit taken from the victims have not yet been completed.

The two rape cases were indicted at different times because one was dismissed in Sessions Court after the victim left before testifying. Cupp expressed his dismay at an attorney who would try to get the case dismissed and lose the opportunity to hear evidence against the client.

“Why in the world would the defense move to dismiss it in Sessions? You have a client charged with rape and you have the best discovery tool in front of you, then the victim doesn’t show up and the defense moves to dismiss it knowing good and well the state will turn around and present it to the grand jury,” Cupp said.

Donaldson did not represent Coburn in Sessions Court.Donaldson said he will be filing a motion to separate the rape cases, but McArdle believes they can be tried together.

“They were within a two-block radius and while one woman was at the hospital getting a rape test, the call came in about the second one and he was caught fleeing from that scene,” she told the judge.

Cupp set the case for trial on May 12-13, but also said that would be the plea deadline for Coburn, who remains jailed while his case is pending.

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