HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Harrison County judge sentenced a 36-year-old man to serve the next 30 years of his life behind bars, without the possibility of parole, after he was found guilty of sexual battery of a child on Friday.
District Attorney Joel Smith said the jury found Tremayne Whittle guilty of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl after more than four hours of deliberation.
Smith said the investigation began after the victim told her family that Whittle, a family acquaintance, had sexually assaulted her. The victim testified the assault took place several months before she came forward, so no physical or DNA evidence could be collected.
Smith said the girl's account of the assault was consistent with what she told her family, the nurse at Memorial Hospital and investigators.
"I am so proud of the bravery exhibited by this child during the entire investigation of this case and during her testimony this week. She is a shining example of courage for us all," said Smith.
The defense argued the entire story was fabricated. Assistant District Attorney Alison Baker reminded the jury that the victim was so scared of her attacker that she could not even look at Whittle in the courtroom.
"At her young age, she does not fully realize what you have taken from her. You have robbed her of the innocence of a child," said Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Larry Bourgeois.
After his release, Whittle will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.