WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Less than 24 hours after he was found guilty of multiple charges including kidnapping and attempted murder of a six-year-old girl, Douglas Edwards was sentenced to between 80 and 110 years in prison.
“He will die in prison and that’s the only appropriate place for him,” New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said.
Last year, the 6-year-old child was taken from her front yard in Monkey Junction, chained to a tree in the woods off River Road and sexually assaulted. She was found the next morning.
“Sometimes we see when evil and innocence intersect, that’s what you call horror,” David said. “And this was every parent’s worse nightmare.”
September 14, 2016, a long night the victim’s family, community members, and local law enforcement like Lt. D.R. Swan with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office will never forget.
“I can’t tell you the amount of emotions a year ago that still resonate with the detectives that handled this case,” Lt. Swan said.
Before deliberations began, the judge and assistant district attorney told the jury they have to decide if they believe two aggravating factors in this case, which are the child is very young and the crime was specifically cruel and heinous. The defense argued against those factors, saying Edwards has faced many challenges his whole life.
The jury found the two aggravating factors exist handing over Edwards’ sentencing to the judge. Before sentencing, the victim’s mother gave an emotional impact statement.
“First of all I would like to thank God, and every single one of you for finding justice for my little one,” she said. “It’s not fair for men such as this one to be free… doing such malicious, evil things to such young children.”
The judge ruled Edwards a sexually violent predator.
The defense asked for Edwards to have mental health considerations and referenced a suicide attempt Wednesday night. The judge also ordered Edwards to not have any contact with the victim.
Wednesday, the jury also found Edwards guilty of two counts of indecent liberties with a child, assault with a deadly weapon and statutory sexual offense.
“You know we’re all parents here,” David said. “And it’s something where we usually are responding to tragedies but to actually be able to prevent a further one and bring a little girl home, goes way beyond than just doing the normal job.”
Edwards has charges pending in the sexual assault of another New Hanover County Child. David said because Edwards will be in prison for life, he is still considering whether to pursue that charge to avoid putting the other victim through a trial.