HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Picayune man who kidnapped two young brothers, then sexually assaulted and tried to murder one, has been sentenced to 72 years in prison.
On Dec. 18, 2013, an 8-year-old boy was discovered near Highway 43 in north Hancock County with a severe cut to his throat. The boy told sheriff's deputies a man kidnapped him and tried to rape him. When the boy resisted, the man cut his throat. But the boy managed to escape and find help for his 5-year-old brother who was still being held captive.
Hancock County Sheriff's deputies soon caught up with James Smith, but Smith took off in a car with the younger boy. He eventually abandoned the child, and ran into the woods.
"Hancock deputies recovered the younger child and contacted Pearl River County law enforcement to assist in locating the defendant. Hancock County officials then learned that Pearl River County was already looking for the same boys as they had been reported as kidnapped while they were playing outside of a residence in the Derby community," said Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel, who prosecuted the case.
Investigators would later learn Smith picked the boys up from their house in Derby and took them to his trailer on Mitchell Road. There, he sexually assaulted them and tried to kill the 8-year old with a knife.
During the sentencing hearing, the victims' mother provided a statement to the defendant, "You have taken a piece of life from both of my boys because of what you put them through, but they are strong."
Minutes later, the defendant then stated during his guilty plea, "I apologize. I am sorry for the crimes I have done. I wish I could change it."
"These boys survived a horrific experience perpetrated on them by this defendant. Their courage and the quick response and teamwork of Hancock and Pearl River County law enforcement ensured that he would spend the rest of his life in a prison cell for his actions," District Attorney Joel Smith said. "Our office prosecuted this case in close coordination with the Pearl River County DA's Office, and we appreciate their assistance through every phase of the case."
Judge Chris Schmidt told Smith he will have to spend every day of his sentence behind bars, without any possibility of early release or parole. This wasn't Smith's first run-in with the law. He had four prior felony convictions for attempted manufacture of methamphetamine, jail escape, receiving stolen property, and violations of the RICO Act.