A former Mid-South preacher was sentenced to five years in prison for knowingly spreading HIV. One day after the sentencing, Rodney Carr filed a motion for a new trial.
For the pastor who, while spreading the good word, was also spreading a potentially deadly virus, was his sentence tough enough?
“I believe he should be severely punished for hurting people’s lives,” said Frederick Delbridge, who lives in Memphis. “You don’t never do bad when you got a chance and an opportunity to do good. You know, that was very evil of him and selfish.”
Carr was once an ordained minister at Fellowship of Believers in Christ Church. He was notified he had HIV in 2005, but during a relationship in 2010 and 2011, he never told his girlfriend. She, as a result, is also HIV positive.
After his 2012 arrest, prosecutors say he set up a profile on an online dating website.
“This criminal exposure to HIV is a C felony, which means it’s punishable by three years to 15 years,” Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said.
Because of his record, Carr was sentenced to five years.
“Your standard criminal defendant, who has no prior felony convictions, is going to fall under that range one and that’s three to six years at 30 percent,” Weirich explained.
Carr may get out of prison after only 1 1/2 years. And his conviction does not require that he register as a sex offender with Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
But, Weirich hopes the conviction itself sends a message.
“He and everybody else inflicted with HIV need to be mindful of what the law in the state of Tennessee provides,” she said.
Carr told court officials that the health department never did notify him, that he only learned about it in 2011.
A judge is scheduled to hear his motion for a new trial on November 17.