Guilty verdict brings six consecutive life sentences

Out of prison for only 76 days, man found guilty and will return to prison for life

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – Cody Allen Arnett is sentenced to life as the result of a landmark recommendation by a Georgetown, Ky., jury when they handed down six life sentences to run consecutively plus 20 years in a rape and sodomy trial that concluded July 28, 2021.

Commonwealth Attorney Sharon Muse Johnson and Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Rob Johnson led the prosecution against Arnett, charged with one count of first-degree burglary, three counts of first-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sodomy and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

During the trial, Arnett’s defense attorney argued his behavior was the result of troubled and rough up-bringing. Muse Johnson pointed out Arnett’s longtime criminal history includes three prior felony convictions, which have earned him a collective 26 years in prison, indicating a repetitive offender whose crimes are escalating.

On September 23, 2018, Arnett entered the victim’s dormitory on Georgetown College’s campus raping and sodomizing her repeatedly for hours while threatening to kill her. The victim was only 18 years-old and a few weeks out of her parent’s home when Arnett assaulted her while she was sleeping on her couch.

During trial, Muse Johnson argued, in graphic detail, the violent acts the defendant committed against the victim, Ava Stokes, a bright young student athlete just starting her college career, prosecutors noted during the sentencing.

Arnett broke into her home, forced a knife to her throat while she slept saying, “don’t make a sound or I’ll slit your throat.” Muse Johnson went on to describe the living nightmare Stokes endured while defendant held her captive for more than two hours while repeatedly raping and sodomizing her.

Muse Johnson’s detailed prosecution, aided by the help of law enforcement, shredded the defense and allowed the Commonwealth to “blow past reasonable doubt,” Prosecutors noted.

Muse Johnson closed the argument by asking the jury to find Arnett guilty on all seven counts to which the jury agreed and responded in less than 90 minutes of deliberation.

At sentencing, Muse Johnson asked for a life sentence for each of the six counts that allowed for it saying, “the day Arnett’s sentence ends Ava’s begins. The day he is released her life is over.”

Muse Johnson argued Arnett was a danger to the community and “has more than earned a life sentence,” as evidenced by him being out of prison for only 76 days and being released on parole for his third felony conviction to repeatedly rape and sodomize Stokes in her dorm room.  After less than one hour deliberating the jury returned with six life sentences and the maximum of 20 years for tampering.

“This jury sent a message to the Kentucky parole board that enough is enough,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Sharon Muse Johnson said. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Johnson led the prosecution working with Ava Stokes and cross examining the defendant. The prosecution team also included First Assistant Kate Bennet, Kristin Hall, and Gracie Davis.

December 6, 2021, after a powerful and compelling statement from Ava Stokes detailing all the defendant took from her, and from comments made by Ava’s father who stated, “life in prison is the second best punishment for you,” as well as Ava’s mother, who talked of the devastation this brought to the entire family, the judge sentenced Arnett to a life sentence. Muse Johnson requested the judge note in the judgment the significant recommendation of the jury as “the twelve people from our community who sat on the jury and heard evidence for seven days clearly never want this man to be out of prison.”

Muse Johnson said, “Ava Stokes is a survivor not a victim. She fought her way out of a life and death situation September 23, 2018, and she has fought the defendant every step of the way. Her statement today at sentencing was empowering and bold.  I could not be prouder of her.”

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