Guilty plea in sex crimes case

Published 8:15 pm Monday, June 9, 2014

NEWS_SEX OFFENSE SENTENCING_BLOUNT_140610_WEBA Washington man will spend the next 24 years in prison for the sexual abuse of a 10-year-old child.

Friday, Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons Jr. sentenced Jesse James Blount Jr., 50, of East Seventh Street in Washington, to 290 to 408 months in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree sexual offense and sex offense by a person in a parental role.

The crimes occurred between April and July of last year, with the latter incident of a sexual assault occurring on Harding Village Road in Washington reported to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s on July 30.

While law enforcement officials had interviewed Blount during the subsequent investigation, when a warrant was issued for his arrest, Blount had left the county. Publicity regarding his wanted status brought in a tip that Blount was in a neighboring county. Deputies with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office made the arrest on Sept. 21.

“Those are serious offenses by his prior history for sentencing purposes — he was a prior record level six, which is the highest you can get,” said Assistant District Attorney Tom Anglim.

Under North Carolina’s structured sentencing, sentences are determined based on the crime and the defendant’s criminal history. A defendant with little to no prior convictions has a prior record level I; level VI offenders are those with very violent or extensive prior records.

According to Anglim, Blount’s record stretches back decades and includes a prior conviction in 1980 for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

Anglim said Beaufort County Superior Court was busy last week, with the District Attorney’s office disposing of nearly 60 cases during the weeklong session.