Teen gets 18 years in prison for battery of 4-year-old girl

Published 12:30 am Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Vicksburg teen convicted earlier this month of sexual battery of a 4-year-old girl was sentenced Friday to serve 18 years in prison.

John Graham, 18, 4407 Halls Ferry Road, was found guilty Nov. 4 after a two-day jury trial. He faced a maximum of life in prison, but because he was 17 at the time of the crime, May 26, no minimum sentence was required to be imposed by Circuit Judge M. James Chaney.

Graham was visibly upset as his sentence was read, and a number of his family members present broke down and left the courtroom weeping, Warren County Victim Assistance Coordinator Brenda Theriot said.

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But the victim’s family was thankful, Theriot said, because the child will be over 18 when Graham is released. Convictions for sexual crimes are served in their entirety with no opportunity for earned release or parole, she said.

Graham also was assessed a $5,000 fine and $322.50 in court costs, must obtain his GED and will be on probation for five years after his release.

Also sentenced Friday was James Perkins, 43, 106 Sherman Ave., who pleaded guilty Nov. 8 to residential burglary.

Chaney handed down a 15-year prison term plus a $5,000 fine and $322.50 in costs.

District Attorney Ricky Smith said a 2007 rape charge against Perkins was dismissed when the defendant agreed to plead guilty to the burglary charge.

“The agreement to drop the rape charge was made with the approval of the victim,” said Smith, and she was present in the courtroom as he was sentenced Friday. “The (rape) charge against Perkins was made known to the judge in the pre-sentencing report.”

Perkins still has a pending charge of forcible rape with a gun in Hinds County, and officials there have been notified of his Warren County sentence, Theriot said.

Also, after a two-day trial in Circuit Court, Doc Hall, 44, 315 Skyview Lane, was found not guilty of possession of cocaine. The jury deliberated about an hour before returning the verdict.

Hall had been arrested Jan. 22, 2008 after a traffic stop on Washington Street. Officers searched the vehicle, which he had recently purchased, and found crack cocaine in the ashtray, Smith said.

“His defense was that someone else had used the vehicle before him and he was unaware of the controlled substance,” the DA said.

Hall was defended by attorney Eugene Perrier.

Judge Isadore Patrick presided.

“Just as we appreciate their work when we get a guilty verdict, we also appreciated the time and effort jurors put into this case,” said Smith. “We believe there was sufficient evidence to find the defendant guilty, but obviously the jury disagreed.”

Also in Warren County Circuit Court for the week ending Friday:

• Dexter Butler, 35, 312 Brookwood Drive, Ridgeland, pleaded guilty to forgery-counterfeit document and was sentenced by Chaney to three years in prison followed by five years of probation, a $1,000 fine, $2,537.38 in restitution and $322.50 in costs. Butler was indicted by the grand jury in January.

• Betty Hoover, 46, 6695 Oak Ridge Road, pleaded guilty to embezzlement and was sentenced by Patrick to five years of probation, plus a $500 fine, $17,100 in restitution and $322.50 in costs. Hoover was indicted by the grand jury in May.

• Denise Lashay Kemper, 28, 1015 Urban Court, pleaded guilty to embezzlement and was sentenced by Patrick to 30 days in jail followed by two years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections Intensive Supervision Program (house arrest) and three years of probation, plus a $1,000 fine, $750 in restitution and $322.50 in costs. Kemper was arrested Sept. 1.