HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Harrison County judge sentenced a Biloxi man to 28 years in prison for beating his wife to death with his bare hands in 2011. Ryan Jacob Cates, 36, was set to go to trial next week for a charge of second degree murder when he chose to change his plea to guilty on Friday.
District Attorney Joel Smith said Cates was arrested on June 2, 2011, for severely beating his wife, Laura Cates. Officials said Cates drove Laura to the Biloxi Regional Medical Center where she later died from her injuries.
"The medical team at Biloxi Regional was instrumental in the gathering of forensic evidence and information that led to today's conviction" said Assistant District Attorney Beth McFadyen Moore. "The defendant initially told police that he arrived home to find his wife beaten and lying unconscious on the bed. However, witnesses, including the couple's young children, told police they saw Mr. Cates go in the trailer with the victim and heard loud thumps and screams while outside."
Smith said Cates admitted he had been drinking when he began to fight with his wife and lost his temper. Cates said he began to strike Laura repeatedly with his fists.
Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced Cates to serve 28 years day-to-day without the possibility of parole, followed by five years of probation.
"Today's guilty plea provides justice for Laura's death and is in accordance with the wishes of her family that her children not have to endure the additional trauma of testifying at trial" said Smith.