Suspect in teen nabbings found guilty of carjacking|[1/23/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 23, 2006

A Texas man accused of kidnapping two Vicksburg teenagers has been found guilty of carjacking, but the jury deadlocked on the more serious charge of kidnapping.

Ronald Wayne Shugart, 39, of Coolidge, Texas, was tried in federal court in Jackson Friday. Sheila Wilbanks, a spokesman for the Southern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney’s Office, said today that Shugart will be tried again starting Feb. 7 on the kidnapping charge.

Shugart was accused along with a South Carolina woman, Annette Myrtis Pierce Thiem, 42, of Florence, of abducting Heather Pritchard, 17, and Shane Gilmore, 15, at knifepoint while the teens were eating breakfast in a car May 1 at the Mississippi River overlook across from the Dixiana Motel on Washington Street.

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The overlook, Louisiana Circle, is part of the Vicksburg National Military Park, which is federal property.

Shugart and Thiem, who apparently wanted money and transportation from the teens, each faced one count of kidnapping and one count of carjacking, with Thiem being found guilty on both counts Thursday. No sentencing date for Thiem was set, but was expected later today.

Both were tried before U.S. District Judge David Bramlette.

The two were accused of abducting the teens from the overlook and using Heather’s silver Dodge Neon to drive them 18 hours to South Carolina, where the car was involved in an accident on Interstate 26 near Laurens, S.C. There, Shane managed to free himself and reported to a state trooper what had happened.

The prison term for people convicted in federal court of kidnapping is from 20 years to life. For carjacking, the maximum is 15 years. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.