CHIPLEY – A man facing trial Monday for charges related to a 2019 kidnapping and sexual battery was sentenced to 30 years in prison after entering a plea as jury selection was set to begin, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.
Travis Dickson Wilson, 39, of Cottondale, was adjudicated guilty of Sexual Battery with a Deadly Weapon, Carjacking, Kidnapping, Robbery, Burglary of an Occupied Conveyance While Armed, and Aggravated Battery. Circuit Court Judge Dedee Costello sentenced the defendant to 30 years in prison to be followed by 10 years’ probation. He will not be eligible for gain time in prison.
Five of the crimes were committed in Washington County, while the Sexual Battery was committed in Jackson County.
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Prosecutor Shalla Jefcoat said the arrest of the defendant and the strong case against him were the result of “good old fashioned police work” by the Chipley Police Department and the strong working relationships between Chipley police, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston County, Ala., Sheriff’s Office where the defendant was a suspect in a different case.
“They identified the defendant by three means: good old fashioned police work, social media and forensics,” Jefcoat said, noting Chipley police conducted a door-to-door search for video along the defendant’s route following the kidnapping while Jackson County deputies found the crime scene where important evidence was recovered.
Jefcoat was prepared to call witnesses and produce evidence proving the defendant approached the victim in a parking lot April 3, 2019, pressed a gun into her side and forced her into her vehicle. Evidence would have shown the victim was forced to drive to a location in Jackson County where the sexual battery took place, then driven back close to the spot from where she was abducted. She immediately sought help and reported the attack.
Chipley police talked to the victim and witnesses and identified that a red SUV was involved. They then went to multiple businesses along the route the victim described, recovering surveillance video from several that confirmed the victim’s story and better identified the vehicle.
A local car dealer helped identify the make and model of the vehicle in the videos, and police used a state database to determine there were nearly 30 such vehicles in that area. But one of those belonged to a man who lived at an address central to the crimes, and that man was picked out of a lineup by the victim as well as being identified by others who saw the video.
Chipley police, knowing Dothan, Ala., deputies were working on a similar case, sent DNA samples from the attack and they matched the DNA samples in the Alabama crime. Those DNA samples both matched the defendant’s DNA, which was in a nationwide database for previous felony offenders.
Basford said the footwork put in by Chipley police and Jackson County deputies, along with the cooperative nature of the investigation between agencies across state lines and forensics by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, are strong examples of quality of law enforcement across the 14th Judicial Circuit.
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