BAY MINETTE, Ala. (WALA) – Dustin Kent pleaded guilty to charges of rape and sodomy in a Baldwin County courtroom Thursday morning, July 31.
FOX10 News Reporter Kati Weis was in the courtroom for Kent’s hearing. Teresa Heinz with the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office told her this hearing resolved the sex charges Kent was facing in Baldwin County.
Kent entered a plea deal that allowed him to drop charges of incest by pleading guilty to rape in the second degree and sodomy in the second degree.
Now, Kent must face a judge for sentencing in October, where he could be sentenced for anywhere between two to 20 years in prison.
Kent will be sentenced October 23, and his bond was revoked. Kent could face up to 20 years in prison. @FOX10News
— Kati Weis (@KatiWeis) July 31, 2014
Part of the plea deal Kent signed in court dismissed some of the other charges he was facing in Baldwin County, including incest and sodomy.
Nonetheless, the prosecution says this was a big win in the case against Kent.
“They have had an emotional rollercoaster over the last couple of years, and it’s not over yet. And our victims in the case are extremely strong children, and my hope is that we will be able to move past this, and they will be able to move past this, and have normal childhoods like any children deserve to have,” said Heinz.
These charges resolved are in relation to sex crimes he committed against family members ages 12 to 16 back in 2008.
Kent’s lawyer, John Beck, told FOX10 his client did the right thing by signing the plea deal.
“Mr. Kent did the right thing, he took responsibility for what he did, and that’s what this system is all about,” said Beck. “Mr. Kent is going to continue to cooperate in the ongoing investigation, and Mr. Kent knows that he’s going to have to pay the price for his crimes.”
Kent is an uncle by marriage of missing teen mom Brittney Wood. He was one of many family members related to Wood involved in inter-family sex crimes against other children in the family.
Brittney Wood, now 20-years-old, went missing in May 2012, after investigators say she left the home of her uncle, Donald Holland, who later apparently committed suicide. Following her disappearance, several family members, including her brother, mother and the wife of Donald Holland were arrested on sex crimes charges.
Investigators maintain that Kent’s sex crimes are not related to Wood’s disappearance.
Kent and some other Wood family members are still facing charges in Mobile County for alleged sex crimes.
Beck said Thursday that his client will most likely file a similar plea deal in Mobile county, as he did in Baldwin County.
“At this point, we would anticipate that Mr. Kent would be doing the same thing in Mobile County as he’s done here today,” said Beck after the plea deal hearing at the Baldwin County Courthouse.
The prosecution said a plea deal is important, because by Kent pleading guilty, he is further protecting the victims he violated.
“By his actions, and taking responsibility, he is now not putting a child on the stand to have to tell her story,” said Heinz. “That is a critical component for us and any prosecution that we handle, is preventing any more trauma to our victims.”
FOX10 reached out to the Mobile County District Attorney’s office about how those Mobile County charges might be handled, but they did not have a comment at this time.
FOX10 will let you know how Kent’s next hearing, and hearings for other family members involved in these sex crimes, play out.