NASHVILLE (WSMV) - After five days of testimony and three hours of jury deliberation, Roy Coons, Jr. was found guilty on all charges in the death of 12-year old Yhoana Arteaga.
The prosecution presented the case accusing Coons, 47, of forcing his way into a trailer to rape 12-year-old Yhoana Artega in 2017. Coons defense focused upon forensic evidence, claiming he was "the wrong guy".
At approximately 2:00 p.m. Monday, the jury was read the five charges Coons faced and given the murder case to deliberate. Just over three hours later, they returned with guilty verdicts on all counts.
"Before he was found guilty, one of the things I would've liked to see from him would've been a little bit of remorse, some kind of feelings where he felt bad or guilty for what he did,” said Patricia Velazquez, Yhoana’s mother, who spoke through an interpreter.
Coons was the man hired to cut the grass at the trailer where Velazquez lived alone with her three children.
"He was found guilty of 2nd degree murder,” says Assistant District Attorney Pam Anderson, who prosecuted the case. “He was originally indicted for pre-meditated murder on that count. So, the jury's decision was that Roy Coons, Jr. did the killing and it was a knowing killing, but they didn't find it was pre-meditated, which has a reflection in judgement.”
Anderson says second degree murder is a charge that requires Coons to serve every year he's sentenced and will not be eligible for parole.
"He was also found guilty of a felony murder count,” says Anderson. “That carries a mandatory life sentence, which in Tennessee means 60 years at 100% [time served].”
Anderson explains if Coons is “a model citizen,” in jail, his sentence could be reduced to 51 years spent in prison.
The sentencing for each murder charge would merge together to make up the life sentence Coons faces.
Coons was also found guilty of felony murder, attempted child rape and aggravated criminal trespassing – a charge that was listed as “aggravated criminal burglary” on his list of charges.
"The attempted rape of a child, which given his record, he could be looking at between 12 to 20 years [in prison],” explains Anderson.
Anderson says the judge will decide whether Coons will serve the extra years for the rape and trespassing charges on top of the life sentence or at the same time.
Several departments within Metro Nashville Police assisted in the investigation, including the Youth Services Division, the Specialized Investigations Unit, the Sex Abuse Unit
"There's a lot of people who put a lot of work into this and we just hope that we can give the Arteaga family a small step toward beginning the healing process," says David Kautzman, MNPD Detective.
Yhoana’s mother expressed her gratitude.
"I can see the dedication and hard work they have put in to getting this case solved," said Velazquez. "I am so grateful for all of them."
"We're going to move forward by staying positive and realizing and knowing that we have a purpose as to why we're here,” Velazquez said. “We'll keep [Yhoana’s] memory alive by thinking about the good times we had together as a family and moving forward."