Walker convicted of sexual battery

Published 8:53 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Circuit Court Judge Tony Mozingo saw “no remorse or humility” as he sentenced a Prentiss man to 42 years in prison for the sexual battery of a young girl.

In handing down the sentence on Friday, Mozingo expressed concern over the lack of response by Johnny Ray Walker Jr., 22. “There seems to be no remorse or humility. I don’t get it,” Mozingo said.

Walker was found guilty of sexual battery of a minor child under the age of 14 on March 25 after a two-day trial. The case was tried by Assistant District Attorneys Carpenter S. Marsalis and Laurel Blue Brinkley.

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Walker was sentenced on March 26, at the Jefferson Davis County Courthouse to serve 42 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He also will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his natural life.

The sexual battery occurred in September 2019, when Walker and a group of young family members were at their grandmother’s house in Prentiss, according to testimony. As the children were playing outside, Walker called the then10-year-old victim inside throughout the day and abused her on three separate occasions, court records show.

“The following factors I take into consideration in determining a sentence on every defendant that comes through this court,” Mozingo said.

“The first one is impact that a certain crime has on a victim. There can be no greater impact on a 10-year-old girl than these crimes that have been committed against her. The second is the possibility of rehabilitation of the defendant; that does not apply in this case.”

“The appropriate punishment is the third consideration,” Mozingo said. “What is appropriate for the crime you are convicted of? The fourth is criminal history of the defendant and there seems to be no criminal conduct in your past that should be considered.”

In fact, Mozingo said, Walker’s family history indicated strong support. “It is remarkable to me how close everyone was in your family how much they love each other and now that family is torn to pieces,” the judge said. “ It is one of the saddest things …Your mother and grandmother are salt of the earth of this community. They are well-respected and good, fine people.”

However, the judge said, Walker’s composure was troubling. “There is something that troubles me. It is your reaction and demeanor yesterday and today,” Mozingo said. “I contrasted your reaction during the verdict yesterday to the father of the victim who sat there sobbing while you gave absolutely no physical reaction of any kind. You didn’t seem to be affected by it. In fact, I remanded you to the custody of the sheriff’s department and you ignored that and turned around and went back and hugged your mother and walked back up on your time. There seems to be no remorse or humility. I don’t get it.”

Walker’s attorney, Vanessa Jones, explained to the court that she instructed her client to stay calm as the verdict was read.

“It bothered me, but it doesn’t affect my ultimate decision about the sentence,” Mozingo said. “It is just something that troubled me.”

“The bottom line is that this child will never have a normal life. Her life, her innocence was taken in a way that was so violent against nature, so egregious. I personally thought that she was completely traumatized being in this courtroom,” Mozingo said.

“This is hard on everyone, but the fact of the matter is that they have paid a lot of attention to the defendant’s rights since the day he was arrested. It is time to focus on victim’s rights. Thinking about her life, she faces fears and compromises when she goes to have a relationship with a husband … when I think about those things, that is what I am focused on here today.”

Mozingo sentenced Walker to 10 years for each of the three acts of sexual battery and 12 years for the age of the defendant, for a total of 42 years.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome of this case,” said 15th Circuit Court District Attorney Hal Kittrell.  “With this verdict, we are able to bring the victim and her family’s nightmare to a close and provide the citizens of Jefferson Davis County with peace of mind following these heinous crimes on a child.

“We appreciate the investigation on this case by the Jefferson Davis County Sherriff’s Office.”