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Truckers take plea in rape case

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By Susan Sharp

Opting to take a plea instead of face a jury, Primus Byrd and Melinda Morris saw a reduction in their charges.

The pair stood accused of raping a woman in the cab of an 18-wheeler while it was parked at the Caryville exit.

Byrd also known Wes McKinney and Morris, who also goes by Melinda Franklin were facing multiple charges from the spring 2008 crime.

Under the terms of their pleas both will serve lengthy probationary terms when released from jail.

Byrd agreed he was guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, driving on a suspended license and having an unauthorized passenger on board his truck.

He was originally charged with 12 crimes that included aggravated rape.

As a result of the plea, Byrd was sentenced to one year in jail. He was given credit for the time he has served since last May.

Once released from jail Byrd must serve six years on supervised probation. Court costs were also assessed to Byrd.

His co-defendant, Morris, plead guilty to the amended charge of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury.

Initially she was charged with aggravated sexual battery and the criminal responsibility of a rape.

Morris was also ordered to spend a year behind bars. With the credit allowed her for time served, she should be released next month.

Afterwards, Morris will be on supervised probation for five years. She must also pay court costs.

The pair was court ordered not to have any contact with their victim.

In May 2008, the duo was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a female who had been traveling with them, according to Caryville Detective Stephanie Smith’s report filed at the time.

Byrd and Morris were arrested within hours of police being notified of the crime.

They were found on a side road in Caryville after their tractor- trailer flipped over. As emergency workers attended to them, it was learned they were wanted in connection with the alleged sexual assault.

Caryville Police later learned Byrd and Morris were both registered as sex offenders in other states.