Youthful offender status granted to Derek Wood

BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) -Baldwin County Judge Jody Bishop granted youthful offender status to Derek Wood Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Derek is the brother Brittney Wood who’s been missing for over two years. He and several other family members face multiple charges of sex abuse against children in Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

We may never know what the future holds for Derek Wood now that he’s been granted youthful offender status. Judge Bishop’s courtroom was only open to Wood’s family and attorneys and all results of the hearing and any sentence will remain sealed to the public. Prosecutors
could not release any details of what happened in that courtroom, but said there will be more to come.

“There are still some open ends to be tied. It’s not a complete resolution at this point in time, but there are negotiations pending,” said Baldwin County Assistand District Attorney Teresa Heinz.

According to Wood’s attorney, Derek Rose Wood’s been in jail since December of 2012 on charges of second degree rape and second degree sodomy. Prosecutors said the victim was between the ages of 12 and 16 at the time of the offenses. Heinz said those charges will
no longer apply and that Wood will be charged as a “youthful offender.”

Derek opened up to Fox 10 News in an exclusive phone interview from the Baldwin County Jail last April. He told us that he was sexually abused by his uncle, Donnie Holland from the time he was seven and it continued for years. A victim himself and now a sex abuse suspect, through all of his legal battles he said his missing sister is always on his mind.

“It’s been pretty hard man. I really just would like to find my sister I mean the jail time is hard but it’s just time. I’m just siting around praying that my sister comes home or we could find something about her,” Wood said in April of 2013.

Prosecutors in Mobile County and Baldwin County face a huge hill to climb. They have nine different suspects in what they call a child sex ring with many of Wood’s relatives. Through all of the court hearings and investigations, Brittney’s disappearance is still a
priority.

“There is not a week that doesn’t go by that we don’t receive information that is thoroughly investigated by the Mobile Police Department, The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office or the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office,” Heinz said. “We follow up on every lead, every rumor. We are all working together as a joint unit to try and find Brittney.”

Wood’s attorney, Derek Rose said Wood’s case was not resolved Tuesday. He said that if convicted and sentenced, Wood could face up to three years in jail on both charges. For now he’s working on getting him out of jail on bond.

Wood had filed a motion for youthful offender status before, but was denied. Prosecutors said that as long as a case is pending, a defendant can re-apply for youthful offender status and that was the case here.

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