April 6, 2006
It was sentencing day Thursday for a local man accused of raping a two and a half year old girl. According to the Commonwealth's attorney, in October of 2003, Jermaine Franklin raped the girl while her mother, Franklin's girlfriend at the time, was at work.
The 25-year-old Franklin was escorted to a police car outside the courthouse after a judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison for the crime. It's a sentence the victim's mother has mixed emotions about.
"Justice was served," said Sherille Jasper, the mother of the little girl. "But I wish...they had [given him] more time, because he's ruined a life, a life that hopefully can be repaired."
Inside the courtroom today the prosecution argued that Franklin was aware of what he did and that he deserved a life sentence. After the sentencing, the Commonwealth's attorney was content with the judge's decision.
"We're pleased that the court has sent him for three decades," said prosecutor Elizabeth Killeen. "That's an excellent protection of the community, under the circumstances."
The circumstances were unique in the case. Defense attorney Cheryl Higgins argued that Franklin was able to function in society, pointing out that he had no record prior to this offense. She says this case was one of a kind.
"I don't think the court has ever had anything similar. In the beginning of its comments, the court stated that this was a very troublesome crime and its not really the kind of case the court ever sees, so I don't really think there's anything to compare it to," said Higgins.
Perhaps most troubling and unique, according to the prosecution, the age of the victim. She was just two and a half years old.
"Any young child, obviously, it's a heinous situation. But a two year old was just beyond talking about, in terms of how heinous that was," said Killeen.
Thursday the victim's mother said the most difficult days may still lie ahead for her daughter.
"It's gonna be a long hard road before she gets past this," said Jasper.