November 29, 2016 1:39:10 PM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
A Lowndes County man was sentenced to 30 years on Tuesday for a count of sexual battery involving a minor relative.
Sammy Speight, 53, pleaded guilty to the charge in Lowndes County Circuit Court, and Judge Lee Coleman handed down the sentence.
Speight, between December 2003 and March 2005, engaged in sexual intercourse with a female relative, who was a minor at the time, according to his indictment. When the victim was 16, he impregnated her.
A grand jury indicted Speight in February, alleging he had sex with a child under 18 for which he was in a position of trust and authority.
Speight will serve 20 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections with 10 years suspended, including five years of post-release supervision. Since it involves a sex crime, 16th Circuit Court District Attorney Scott Colom said Speight would not be eligible for parole or early release.
"I think Judge Coleman's sentence sent a strong signal that our court system will not tolerate sex crimes against children ...," Colom said.
Rodney Ray of Columbus served as Speight's defense attorney.
"Prior to Sammie Speight entering a plea of guilty today, he had never been in any type of trouble," Ray said in an email statement. "I presented witnesses who testified regarding his character, work ethic and work record, all of whom were shocked that he committed this crime, but still believed in him, and were not shocked that he accepted responsibility for his actions. It was apparent that the Judge considered everything presented to him, as he made clear prior to sentencing, by stating that (my client) he had lived an exemplary life other than this situation and it was a sad day for everyone involved."
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