Thursday, April 12, 2007
Pruitt gets life plus 50 years
By SUE WATSON
Michael Wallace Pruitt was sentenced Tuesday in Marshall County Circuit Court for the aggravated assault, kidnapping and sexual assault of a 6-year-old Laws Hill girl that happened July 22, 2006.
With about 40 of the victim’s family in the courtroom, Judge Andrew Howorth sentenced Pruitt to life imprisonment for sexual assault, 30 years for kidnapping and 20 years for aggravated assault. The sentences are to run consecutively.
Pruitt pled guilty to the three counts March 19 this year.
Howorth said Pruitt’s admission of guilt and acceptance of responsibility for the crimes was a mitigating factor in determining the appropriate sentence.
“But in the court’s opinion when the state dismissed two other charges, that was credit the defendant received for acceptance of responsibility,” Howorth said.
“When the defendant confessed to law enforcement and led authorities to the victim, it should be remembered it was his intention to lead them to a corpse.”
Howorth said he believed the child is alive due to “good police work and God’s grace.”
“The defendant does not face the death penalty because the child lives,” said Howorth. “Finally, whatever blame is to be laid on drugs and alcohol, not even a mitigating factor to begin with, drugs and alcohol can make you do bad things. Drugs and alcohol do not make you do evil things. Being evil makes you do evil things and this defendant in this court’s opinion may be the personification of evil.”
Pruitt made a statement before the court prior to sentencing in which he apologized to the family of the victim and to the community.
“Judge, I’m here today to accept what I’ve done to hurt Morgan and the community,” he said. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done; I hope we can all get over this some day and things can get back like it was. I’m really sorry. I never meant to do that.”
Pruitt said he believes he is the only one responsible for the crimes.
“I also feel I am the only one who had anything to do with this crime,” he said. “I didn’t realize what I’d done until it was over with. I just want to apologize to everybody.”
Sidney Shaw stood by his wife Jennifer Shaw as she read a prepared statement before the court, saying their family will never live a normal life.
Their 6-year-old daughter was put into adult shoes after the crime, she said.
“She talks about what happened every day,” Jennifer Shaw said. “We will never forget how normal she was when we see her left arm just hanging.”
Shaw said her daughter sees a teacher only about five hours a week and will repeat the first grade because she has to relearn to count, to write and say her ABCs.
Her daughter now senses she has a public life and is recognized everywhere she goes, she said.
The child also is taking medication long term and probably will have to continue to see psychiatrists most of her life, Jennifer Shaw said.
The mother said the family needs closure and she wanted Pruitt in prison “where he will never have a chance to harm another child.”
In asking the court for the maximum sentencing, district attorney Ben Creekmore, said “the burden the victim’s family has to go through is too heavy without some type of uplifting.”
Creekmore said it is “a miracle she is alive.”
“She lay out there in the sun and he knew she was there,” Creekmore said. “Had she died, the death penalty would be what he would be facing. So, from the state’s point of view, the case would deserve the maximum sentence allowable under the law for this dispicable act he committed to this precious child.”
Judge Howorth ordered law enforcement officials to transport Pruitt directly to Parchman.
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