Man sentenced to life, will serve 25 for sexual battery and aggravated sodomy
by Jessica Loeding
Feb 20, 2013 | 2448 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A man found guilty in January of aggravated sodomy and sexual battery against an 82-year-old woman was sentenced Tuesday in Bartow County Superior Court.

Mark Steven Kent, 52, will face a lengthy sentence, along with fines, sex offender conditions and a policy outlawing contact with the victim.

“It was a life sentence with 25 years to serve. And it’s a 25 [year sentence] with no parole, so once he gets out, he’ll be on probation for the remainder of his life,” said Assistant District Attorney Jana Allen.

Kent’s co-defendant and the victim’s daughter, Thelma Riddle, pleaded guilty in January to abusing the victim and testified against Kent. Riddle had hired Kent to care for her mother despite a lack of training on his part.

Also Tuesday, a jury returned a split verdict in Judge Scott Smith’s courtroom involving a duo facing drug charges.

Debra Faye Murphy and Mark Wayne Murphy each faced a possession of methamphetamine in violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act following their arrest by the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force.

A jury Tuesday found Debra Murphy not guilty, returning a guilty verdict for Mark Murphy. He is set to be sentenced March 12 in Smith’s courtroom.

Testimony begins in drug trafficking case

Another DTF case began Tuesday afternoon involving Tyler Scott Peterson, who is accused of trafficking and selling meth, forgery and marijuana violations.

The 2011 incident stemmed from information received by the DTF involving the sale of meth. Peterson allegedly sold meth to an undercover officer and was later apprehended in a traffic stop in which a trafficking amount of meth, cash and marijuana was seized.

Assistant District Attorney Sharon Fox began opening statements by saying the defense did not dispute the substances seized in the investigation were, in fact, meth and marijuana.

Defense attorney Paul Smith said the drugs, however, belonged to a co-defendant who was driving the vehicle where the drugs were located and in which Peterson was a passenger.

The DTF case agent testified that he and a confidential informant had gone to the Allatoona Shores residence July 12, 2011, to purchase methamphetamine. According to testimony, the pair returned some time later, pulling in behind a silver Ford Ranger driven by a female as Peterson exited the truck and approached the front door of the Acworth home.

According to the agent, he and the informant entered behind Peterson who walked into a bedroom off the kitchen and began talking with the resident.

The agent said he pretended to make a phone call before handing off cash for the purchase of meth to the resident who gave it to Peterson.

He testified he saw Peterson holding a large bag of a crystal substance he believed to be meth.

“He reached in and grabbed a piece and put it into a smaller ziplock-style bag,” the agent testified. “He handed it to [the resident]. [The resident] showed it to me; it contained one large shard, or one large piece of crystalline methamphetamine.”

According to the agent, the piece of meth was crushed and a portion placed in a smaller “corner bag.”

The group then made its way out to the living room and Peterson left before returning a short time later, claiming he had received a counterfeit $20 from another person at the residence. After the bill was replaced, the group left with the officer advising other agents of the vehicle Peterson had left in and asking them to intercept.

“The plans for any of our investigations are to go as high up on the ladder as we can. Essentially, ‘Cut the head off the snake’ is our philosophy,” the agent testified. “The circumstances changed when Mr. Peterson showed up with a large amount of drugs.

“As I thought about this as we were leaving and had to weigh the investigation’s future versus allowing that large amount of methamphetamine to go out into the public or wherever else, I made the decision and informed [the commander] to see if they could have the vehicle stopped.”

Because of technical difficulties in viewing audio and video evidence, the trial will resume at 9 a.m. today in Smith’s courtroom.