A Harrison County jury on Thursday afternoon convicted a man of child molestation.
Wade Blackwell Jr., 66, was found guilty after the jury deliberated for just 30 minutes. The three-day trial included testimony from the 10-year-old boy who initially reported the crime, as well as another victim, now an adult, who came forward during the investigation, saying he had been abused decades before, at about the same age as the 10-year-old boy.
Circuit Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced Blackwell to 25 years, saying “nothing the court can sentence you to would be equal to the sentence you imposed on this victim.”
Blackwell did not speak during the sentencing.
Because of the nature of the crime, the defendant will be required to serve the sentence day for day without the possibility of early release or parole and must register as a sex offender when released.
The victim’s testimony was consistent with earlier disclosures to family and law enforcement, according to District Attorney Joel Smith.
“The teamwork demonstrated by law enforcement, the Child Advocacy Center and Memorial Behavioral Health made it possible to seek and obtain today’s conviction,” Smith said. “Utilizing this multidisciplinary approach in child abuse cases allows everyone to work together to achieve our common goal of obtaining justice for the victim. ”
The crime came to light when the victim told family members in January 2015 about the abuse, saying it had been going on for months. His family contacted the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office to report the abuse.
“The jury also heard testimony from a forensic interviewer from the Child Advocacy Center who provided a recorded interview of the victim regarding the abuse from just days after the disclosure,” said Assistant District Attorney Alison Baker, who prosecuted the case along with Jason Josef.
“It was emotionally difficult for the victim to take the witness stand and testify in court. He showed a great deal of bravery and we are glad that he now has closure of this chapter.”