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Hicks sentenced to 12.5 years in prison

From the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney, 29th Judicial Circuit

On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, Samuel Joseph Hicks appeared in Adair Circuit Court for final sentencing on several felony offenses. Hicks, age 41 and a resident of Maryville, Tennessee, had previously pled guilty as charged to the Class B Felony offense of First-Degree Unlawful Transaction With a Minor, as well as the Class D Felonies of Third-Degree Sodomy; Third-Degree Rape; and two (2) counts of Prohibited Use of an Electronic Device to Induce a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity.

Judge Judy Vance Murphy sentenced Hicks to serve 12 years and 6 months in prison for the crimes, which was the sentence that had been recommended by Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright at the time Hicks entered his guilty plea.

The investigation into the case was led by Kentucky State Police Trooper Billy Begley and Detective Marvin Blakey, who are both assigned to KSP Post 15 in Columbia.

Trooper Begley received information in December 2018 that Hicks was communicating with a fourteen-year old child in Adair County using the social media application "Snapchat", and that Hicks had traveled from Tennessee to Adair County to meet the child and to engage in sexual acts with the child. Although Hicks' identity was not immediately known to the officers, they were able to monitor additional communications between Hicks and the child's cell phone and apprehended Hicks when he made a second trip to Adair County to again meet the child. KSP Trooper Clint Bale and Adair County Sheriff's Deputy Joey Keith assisted in the apprehension of Hicks when he returned to Adair County.

Wright commended Trooper Begley and Detective Blakey for their determination to identify the perpetrator in this case and for their hard work that contributed to the successful prosecution of Hicks. Additionally, Wright reminds persons in the community to be vigilant in monitoring the use of social media applications by children. Wright added that the investigation of this case began when members of the child's household discovered messages on the child's phone between the child and Hicks. Social services was notified and the Kentucky State Police was contacted to investigate the case.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Hicks will be required to serve at least eight-five percent of the 12 1/2 year sentence (i.e., over 10 years) before he is even eligible for parole and he will further be subject to a period of post-incarceration supervision for at least 5 years after he is released from custody on this sentence. A violation of the conditions of that post-incarceration supervision could result in Hicks being required to serve additional time in custody.

Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright said "I would prefer to put persons who sexually victimize minors in prison for 20 years or longer, but this spares a young child from testifying about some of the worst and most embarrassing days of her life in a courtroom full of strangers." Wright added that cases like this require prosecutors to balance the child victim's mental health with the benefits of lengthier sentences, saying "Under Kentucky law, even a maximum sentence in this case would be eligible for parole in no more than twenty years." Additionally, the guilty plea avoids any potential for appeal and ensures a significant punishment for Hicks. Upon Hicks' release from custody he will be required to register as a sexual offender for life.

This story was posted on 2020-10-14 17:17:46
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