Wednesday morning, 49-year old Gulfport resident Edrick Johnson was sentenced to 13-years in prison at the Harrison County Courthouse by Second District Circuit Court Judge Christopher Schmidt. Johnson plead guilty to Unlawful Touching of a Child the day before jury selection was scheduled to start in his trial.
Initially, the case came to the attention of authorities on January 11, 2017, when the Gulfport Police Department responded to a disturbance at Parkview Apartments in Gulfport. After arrival, the police made contact with the mother of the victim, as she was confronting the defendant. The mother told authorities that her 5-year old at the time of the crime, described the defendant, a friend of the family, had molested her while she was staying at a relative’s house while the mother went to work. Less than a week later, the child was forensically interviewed by the Child Advocacy Center in Gulfport and able to provide pertinent details that helped detectives further investigate the defendant.
“During the investigation, Gulfport detectives were able to locate other individuals who had been molested by the defendant in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Although their cases were not able to be prosecuted at the time, these individuals were willing to come forward and provide testimony of the defendant’s conduct. The women that came forward were crucial to the prosecution of this defendant and ensuring justice took place,” said Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker.
In sentencing the defendant to 13 years, Judge Schmidt told the defendant that the Court was not there to hand out mercy, but to do that which is just and that his actions have “inflicted a lifetime of pain on the victims.” Given the nature of the crimes, the 13 year sentence will have to be served day for day without the eligibility of probation or parole. Upon Johnson’s release, the defendant will have to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.
“This case not only illustrates the commitment of Gulfport Police to the protection of our children but also the importance of having a strong Child Advocacy Center. Those two agencies, their training and professionalism, led to a child molester being held accountable for his actions and allowing victims to receive justice this week,” said Second Circuit Court District Attorney Joel Smith.