For once his victims and their families seemed happy to be in court because of Carlton Steve McKissic.
With smiles, sighs of relief and victorious fist-pumps they reacted to Judge William Rumer’s sentencing McKissic to life without parole for his aggravated sodomy and child molestion convictions involving three girls who in 2012 were ages 9, 10 and 13.
Assistant District Attorney Wesley Lambertus said McKissic, 37, had four prior felony convictions, and three would have been sufficient under Georgia law to justify the sentence Rumer gave him.
A jury March 17 convicted McKissic of aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, three counts each of child molestation and three counts of furnishing alcohol to minors.
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McKissic was convicted of groping all three of the girls. His more serious charges involved the 9-year-old, on whom he forced anal sodomy.
Investigators said the girls spent the night of March 19, 2012, at the Enoch Drive home of McKissic’s wife, where McKissic brought them cans of Natural Light beer to drink before showing them a movie that had sex in it.
The girls told police they poured the beer out and hid the cans while McKissic left the bedroom for about 15 minutes. He then returned, started the movie, and crawled into bed with them after they fell asleep.
The girl who was 9 at the time testified McKissic was sodomizing her when she awoke about 3 a.m. March 20, 2012.
Addressing the judge before sentencing, the mother of that girl said her daughter, now 11, still suffers from nightmares and bouts of anxiety. The mother said she herself feels as if she failed her daughter because she "wasn't able to be there" to protect her from McKissic.
McKissic through his attorney Robin King said he maintains he is innocent.
Rumer segmented McKissic’s sentence so the defendant technically got life without parole plus 20 years. His aggravated sodomy and aggravated child molestion charges were merged into a single count, having derived from a single act, and that got him life without parole.
Concurrent with that sentence, he’s to serve 20 years on each of two child molestation counts and a year on each of three counts of furnishing alcohol to minors.
That left a third child molestation charge, for which Rumer sentenced McKissic to serve 20 years “consecutive,” or in addition to life without parole.
Lambertus said McKissic had one prior felony conviction in Muscogee County and three in Russell County, so the prosecutor asked for the maximum sentence according to the law.
He said McKissic previously was convicted of aggravated assault May 4, 2007, in Muscogee County.
On June 30, 1994, he in Russell County, Ala., was convicted of first-degree theft for stealing a car, first-degree burglary, and third-degree robbery, all felonies.
Besides that record, McKissic repeatedly was arrested for domestic violence here in Columbus, including these incidents:
Simple battery (family violence) on April 17, 2006.
Simple battery (family violence) on May 29, 2006.
Terroristic threats (family violence) on March 22, 2008.
Simple assault (family violence) on July 24, 2011.
He also was charged with theft by bringing stolen property into the state on Aug. 7, 2007.
During the sentencing Rumer cited McKissic’s appeal rights, including the right to seek a new trial. That worried the victims and their families, who seemed afraid he might be released from jail – though informing a defendant of appeal rights is standard procedure.
Lambertus explained that to them afterward: “As I told them, every defendant has a right to appeal his conviction, and a first step in the appeal process is filing a motion for a new trial.”
Asked whether the victims and their families still feared McKissic, Lambertus replied:
“I don’t blame them for being afraid of him. He’s already proven what he’s capable of doing.”