PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — A military veteran who once faked his own death to try to avoid criminal charges has been convicted of sexually assaulting a girl and impregnating her when he was 40 and she was 14.
A jury convicted Jacob Blair Scott of Moss Point, Mississippi, on Thursday. Jackson County Circuit Judge Kathy King Jackson sentenced him to 85 years in prison, saying it is essentially a life sentence. She also ordered him to pay $10,000 in fines.
"The evidence is overwhelming," Jackson said. "It's more evidence than I've probably ever seen."
The Sun Herald reported Scott was emotionless when a jury found him guilty of nine counts of sexual battery, four counts of touching a child for lustful purposes and one count of child exploitation.
Scott, 45, is a military veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart in 2011 for injuries he received while deployed in Iraq, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, which had once listed him as one of its 15 most wanted fugitives.
Scott was supposed to turn himself in to face charges of assaulting the girl, but he faked his death in July 2018 by leaving a small boat with a gun and a suicide note in Orange Beach, Alabama, WLOX-TV reported.
Authorities found little evidence of a suicide but searched for a body for more than a week in the Gulf of Mexico. Scott was captured in early 2020 at an RV park in Oklahoma, where he was living under another person's name.
During the trial, the victim cried as she testified that Scott sexually assaulted her at least 30 times beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017 when she learned she was pregnant. She said she gave birth to the baby.
District Attorney Angel Myers McIlrath and Assistant District Attorney Justin Lovorn excoriated Scott for trying to blame his mental state, a failing relationship and even the victim for the sexual assaults.
"This is the first time in my 18 years I have ever seen anything so brazen and so vile," McIlrath said. "This is about blaming the 14-year-old. This whole trial was about humiliating the 14-year-old who had no choice."
Before sentencing, Scott blamed his mental issues, post-traumatic stress and other disorders for affecting his mental state when he committed the crimes. He pleaded with the judge to look at his medical record and how he was heavily medicated and suffering from depression and relationship problems that he said clouded his judgment.
"I was a good man," Scott said "This ain't who I am."
McIrath called Scott's defense a "hail Mary" tactic to try to get leniency. Before handing down the sentence, the judge said she didn't believe Scott.