ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Terrance Devonte Cobb, 22 will likely spend the remainder of his productive life in state prison.
Monday he was scheduled to stand trial for first degree rape, sodomy, kidnapping and shooting into an occupied vehicle. As attorneys worked to strike a jury, Cobb unexpectedly agreed to enter a blind plea. A blind plea agreement does not include sentencing recommendations or dropped charges like most typical plea agreements.
Chief Deputy District Attorney CJ Robinson said if the trial had gone forward, prosecutors would have introduced what he described as “overwhelming evidence” to put Cobb at the scene of the crime where he reportedly raped and sodomized a 68-year-old woman after his car collided with hers in Tallassee in early 2019.
After the wreck, Robinson said Cobb shot into the victim’s vehicle with a stolen gun and forced her to drive to another location where the sexual assault occurred. That firearm was recovered from Cobb’s house during a search warrant.
A ballistic report found the holes in the victim’s vehicle directly matched the gun. Robinson acknowledged the state was also prepared to admit forensic evidence from the victim’s rape exam, which matched Cobb’s DNA profile. Additionally, investigators uncovered money from the victim’s stolen purse in Cobb’s bedroom and her AARP card in his pants pocket.
“We had ballistic evidence, we had forensic evidence, we had direct evidence and circumstantial evidence,” Robinson added. “We also had a threat from when [Cobb] was in court previously when he said he should have just killed her.”
Immediately after Cobb entered a blind plea agreement, Circuit Judge Bill Lewis handed down a combined 198-year sentence for the five felony counts. Cobb was sentenced to 99 years for first degree rape and 99 years for first degree sodomy, which will be served consecutively or back to back. Lewis also imposed a 99-year sentence for first degree robbery, a 30-year sentence for second degree kidnapping and a 30-year sentence for shooting into an occupied vehicle. Those sentences will be served concurrently, or at the same time as the 99-year sodomy sentence.
It was a surprising outcome for all parties involved, Robinson said prior attempts to reach a plea agreement were exhausted ahead of trial.
“Our primary goal was to protect this victim as much as possible,” Robinson explained. “In this particular situation she was able to have this type of sentence and not have to get on stand and relieve the events that changed her life. Our other goal was to keep Terrance Cobb from ever doing this to another human again as long as he lived. I do believe this was the best possible outcome as opposed to where we were 30 to 40 minutes ago.”
The victim remains in counseling and continues to receive treatment after suffering from a condition called broken heart syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, broken heart syndrome mimics the symptoms of a heart attack and is brought on by stressful events.
“It’s a terrible case, honestly in 14 years it’s one of the worst I’ve been part of where the victim actually survived the events that occurred,” he explained.
This was the judicial circuit’s first attempt to have a trial since state court restrictions went into place early in the pandemic. The office secured the Wetumpka Civic Center to strike the jury off site to allow for social distancing. The trial would have been held in the Elmore County Courthouse.
“This was a bit of a test run,” Robinson stated. “We have multiple capital murder cases that were on the verge of going to trial when COVID hit and those have been put on hold indefinitely. It was trial run to see how we could procedurally proceed with those capital murder cases and death penalty cases when we are striking off site.”
The circuit plans to use the same strategy going forward.