He doused an inmate with hot liquid. Now he’s a habitual offender.

Norman Joseph Tate
Norman Joseph Tate

A two-time felon has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for dousing a Harrison County jail inmate with hot liquid.

Norman Joseph Tate, 23, of Gulfport, was sentenced after guilty pleas this week on charges of aggravated assault and felon in possession of a weapon.

Jury selection was about to begin in Harrison County Circuit Court when Tate decided to change his plea on Monday, District Attorney Joel Smith said Wednesday.

Tate was being held at the Harrison County jail after a 2015 arrest on a firearm charge when the assault happened. He and two other inmates used a microwave to heat a liquid that Tate threw on another inmate, causing severe burns, prosecutors said.

The wounded man was taken to the University of Alabama Burn Unit in Mobile.

Judge Roger Clark sentenced Tate to 10 years on the firearm violation and 20 years for the assault, and ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

Because Tate has already had two felony convictions, he was prosecuted as a habitual offender, Smith said. Tate must serve the 20 years day for day, with no eligibility for early release.

Tate’s family addressed the court before his sentencing and told the judge he was not raised to commit crimes, said Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker in a press release. The family also said they understand the need for punishment, but wanted the judge to know they still love and care for him, Parker said.

“The sentence handed down by Judge Clark reflects not only the serious nature of this defendant’s current actions, but also demonstrates that our habitual offender laws are designed to protect communities from those who have demonstrated a repetitive pattern of conduct by their unwillingness to obey the law,” Smith said.

Tate was convicted of burglary and simple assault on a police officer in 2012. Those crimes occurred in 2010 and 2011, the jail docket shows.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews