September 1, 2018 10:02:18 PM
A Lowndes County man will spend life in prison after a jury found him guilty of molesting a 13-year-old autistic child.
Johnny Lee Saddler, 64, was convicted of touching a child for lustful purposes Thursday. Judge Lee Howard sentenced him to life in the Mississippi Department of Corrections as a habitual offender Friday morning.
Saddler is a registered sex offender who was convicted of the same charge purposes in December 2014. He was out of MDOC on probation when he was arrested again in September 2016, according to investigators at the time of his arrest.
District Attorney Scott Colom said Saddler has been convicted of another nonviolent felony as well.
"We feel good about the verdict because the evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Saddler fondled a severely autistic child," Colom said Friday, several hours after Saddler's sentencing.
Colom added that because of the victim's severe disability, Saddler likely would not have been caught had a witness not seen him molest the child.
Saddler's attorney, Jase Dalrymple, did not respond to a message from The Dispatch by press time.
Colom said his office offered Saddler a plea deal for eight years, but that Saddler elected to have a trial anyway.
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