Nix found guilty of rape, sexual assault on a minor

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HANCOCK COUNTY — Sitting in the courtroom with her family and friends, the 16-year-old girl couldn’t contain her emotions. She lowered her head and cried after Judge Terry Snow announced the guilty verdict in the rape trial of Hayden J. Nix.

The verdict came down late Tuesday afternoon in Hancock County Superior Court 1 after a two-day trial.

Nix, 21, Greenfield, was found guilty of a Level 3 felony count of rape when compelled by force and a Level 5 felony count of sexual misconduct with a minor. The jury of eight men and four women deliberated for about 90 minutes before reaching a verdict. Nix sat emotionless as the verdict was read.

The girl, who was 14 at the time of the attack in October of 2017, told the jury that Nix — who was sitting just feet away from her as she testified — had raped her in the back seat of a car.

Deputy prosecutor Catherine Wilson said she knew the state had a strong case against Nix and was gratified the jury agreed. Wilson said she thought the victim’s testimony was key. The girl was one of two witnesses to take the stand during the opening day of testimony Monday afternoon. A friend of the girl who had been with her that night also testified.

The trial continued Tuesday with testimony from a teenage boy who was also present; the girl’s grandmother; and her father, who ended up being the one to report the incident to the police several months after it happened.

“It was awful — the worst thing ever,” the father testified, describing the moment he learned what had happened.

The case went to jurors Tuesday afternoon, after the defense called no witnesses.

During her opening statement Monday, Wilson told the jury that before the night of the incident, the victim was a good student who enjoyed cheerleading and softball. But since that night, Wilson said, the girl’s life had changed for the worse.

Nix’s attorney, Denise Turner of Indianapolis, tried the characterize the victim as someone who who lied and sneaked out of her father’s house with a girlfriend to go to a place where there were drugs, alcohol and older boys.

The victim told the jury she and a close friend did sneak out of her father’s home late that night and caught a ride with a boy who was a friend to go to a party. While they stayed for several hours, they did not drink or do drugs, the victim said.

When it was time to go, Nix showed up and volunteered to drive the girls home along with the mutual friend who had taken the girls to the party, the girl said.

On the ride home, the group stopped at the boy’s house, where the victim told the jury she was left alone in the car with Nix, who was 19 at the time. She testified she had never met him before that night.

The girl told the court Nix got into the back seat of the car where she was sitting and forced himself on her despite her multiple efforts to escape.

“I was yelling at him to stop,” the victim said. “I was not OK with how he was touching me.”

The victim explained to the jury the reason why she waited to report the incident was because she thought she could handle her emotions. She also didn’t want to upset and disappoint her father.

During cross examination of the girl, Turner pointed out inconsistencies between the victim’s statements in court and in a deposition about how many times the victim had tried to open the car door to escape. Turner also referred to the victim’s inconsistencies in testimony about a social media communication between the victim and Nix after the incident.

The victim’s girlfriend, who she had sneaked out with, told a different version of who was driving and where people were sitting in the car. Turner then pointed out inconsistencies between her testimony and deposition.

Deputy prosecutor Kevin Kelly focused on the fact the girlfriend was deposed some 18 months after the incident but had remembered the main fact her friend had told her: that Nix had raped her.

The victim’s girlfriend also told the jury her male friend wouldn’t let her go back to the car after they had stopped at his house and that while they were wasting time, talking in the nearby woods at his house, she could hear arguing between Nix and her friend coming from the car.

The girlfriend said she tried to get into the car on two occasions because she was ready to go home, but when she knocked on the window, Nix told her to leave.

Nix is expected to be sentenced sometime early next week, Wilson said. He’s facing up to 16 years in prison for the rape conviction. This was the final of four similar cases brought this year against Nix, all stemming from incidents in the fall of 2017. He is already facing some 20 years in prison in the earlier cases.

Nix’s family said they will appeal the jury’s verdict as well as the other cases against him.

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