ANDERSON — It came down to credibility.
And ultimately, Judge David Happe, who possessed the lone voice of decision, determined Jimmy Nave Jr.’s story was unbelievable.
Happe found Nave guilty on charges of kidnapping and attempted carjacking on Tuesday evening in Madison Circuit Court 4. Nave was accused of jumping into the backseat of an elderly woman’s car, holding the 81-year-old at knifepoint and telling her to drive on Feb. 16 at a Mounds Mall parking lot.
The one-day trial wrapped up despite a late start caused by a bomb threat earlier Tuesday morning. Several police who investigated the case testified, but key information came from the victim, Nave’s car mechanic and a witness who watched the incident unfold.
Nave also testified, telling the court he jumped into the car because he saw someone back into his vehicle in the parking lot and was trying to track down the person responsible. He admitted to getting into the woman’s car and yelling at her, but said he only did it out of frustration.
The story didn’t ring true to Happe, and because it was a bench trial, he was the only person who needed to be convinced.
“To be blunt, the story sounds implausible and inconsistent. It’s just not credible,” Happe said.
Credibility was also the issue deputy prosecutor Bob Summerfield tried to hammer home during his closing argument. Based strictly on statute, Nave already incriminated himself by admitting to jumping into the woman’s car and touching her, Summerfield said. The rest was just details.
“A lot of it comes down to credibility. And she’s been credible and consistent,” Summerfield said as he pointed to the now 82-year-old victim. “She has no motive to lie.”
During a cross-examination, Summerfield also slammed Nave on his past, noting a prior conviction of armed robbery in 2000, when Nave and his brother robbed a bank. The prosecution also refuted Nave’s claims that his car was the one damaged during the incident.