Defendant could receive maximum sentence of life imprisonment

LABEL: MARION COUNTY

SUGGESTED HEAD: Keith pleads guilty to statutory sodomy charge

A convicted sex offender pleaded guilty to charges of deviate sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

James Keith, 53, of Philadelphia, Mo., faces a potential life imprisonment sentence related to the charge. Keith entered the guilty plea to the charge of Statutory Sodomy 1st degree in Marion County Circuit Court on Friday, Aug. 31. A sentencing report has been ordered to assist the Court in determining what sentence the defendant will receive.

Sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov.7 in Palmyra with Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd presiding. The unclassified felony of Statutory Sodomy carries a range of punishment from 5 years up to life imprisonment. Public Defender Jonathan Hoover represents the defendant. Marion County Prosecuting Attorney David Clayton represents the state.

“There is no plea agreement in this case. I’ll be asking for the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The defendant lured a vulnerable 13 year old girl into having sexual contact with him. He used the internet and social media as tools to contact her and establish a relationship with her. He is a convicted sex offender and was found guilty of the same charge in Lewis County in 1997. I want to ensure that he never gets the chance to do this to another child,” Clayton said. “The victim and her family have been notified. They can accelerate the healing process knowing they won’t have to testify at trial.”

According to a probable cause statement, the girl’s parents discovered messages from Keith on social media accounts and contacted law enforcement. Marion County Detectives contacted Keith at his home on Oct. 31 and took him in for questioning, when he allegedly confessed to the acts. Documents indicate Keith signed a mirandized statement.

Keith remains incarcerated in the Marion County Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond.