BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A Mississippi County man was found guilty Thursday in Blytheville Circuit Court, according to state prosecutors. According to prosecutors, Sharp was sentenced to 25 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
According to court documents, Freddie Sharp III, of Gosnell, was found guilty of the rape of 11-year-old Jessica Williams. Williams' body was found in a ditch on August 28, 2013.
Before this week's trial, Sharp was ordered not to have contact with Williams' family or any minor child if he made bond. He was also ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device. Sharp was arrested by the Mississippi County Sheriff's Office.
According to police, DNA evidence collected by the Arkansas State Crime Lab matched Sharp's, 2nd Judicial Prosecutor Scott Ellington told Region 8 News before a gag order was issued in the case.
A court document released by Ellington's office states investigators received notice of the match in January, 2014. The document also stated Sharp denied rape.
Also on January 10, 2014, Christopher Sowell, the teenager charged with 1st degree murder in the death of Williams, was released from jail on a $25,000 bond, according to court documents obtained by Region 8 News. Sowell, 17, of Gosnell was arrested on August 28, 2013. Originally, his bond was set at two million dollars. Sowell plead not guilty.
Sowell is scheduled to appear in circuit court January 5, 2015. A gag order remains in place.
An affidavit released by the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department in 2013, stated Sowell admitted to investigators that he killed Williams. He told officers he became angry and pushed the girl off the bridge onto the ground. Sowell then said when Jessica got back on the bridge, she said she was going to tell her dad what happened.
According to the affidavit, Sowell told investigators he became even more angry and choked her. Sowell then said he pushed the girl over the side of the bridge into the water and walked away.
An autopsy report suggested Williams' death was caused by strangulation and drowning. She went missing on the night of Aug. 27, 2013 around 6 p.m. but was not reported missing until 9 p.m.
Williams' body was found in a floodway ditch on East County Road 122 near Big Lake on the morning of Aug. 28.