Covington Co. man sentenced to 70 years for kidnapping and exploitation
COVINGTON COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - A Covington County man will serve 70 years for kidnapping and exploitation charges stemming from a November 2020 arrest.
On November 8, 2020, the Covington County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call about a missing child. The parents told deputies they suspected their child had been kidnapped by 51-year-old Mark Hand.
Deputies investigated Hand’s property, about 15 miles away, and found the man at the back of the property with the child. They immediately arrested Hand on one count of kidnapping.
During the investigation, law enforcement seized and sent Hand’s computers and other electronic devices to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Division. Files of child pornography found by the division resulted in additional charges of exploitation of a child - possession of child pornography.
A jury found Hand guilty of both kidnapping and exploitation of a child after a two-day trial on July 26.
Covington County Circuit Judge Stanley Sorey sentenced Hand to 30 years for the kidnapping charge and 40 years for the exploitation charge. The sentences are to run consecutively.
District Attorney Chris Hennis said the investigation and expert testimony by the Cyber Crime Division was critical to the successful prosecution of the case.
“... this conviction, and justice for our child victim, would not have been possible without the assistance of the cyber crimes unit from Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office,” Hennis said. “The forensic investigation conducted by that unit, along with the expert testimony provided at the trial by the investigator, were crucial in securing a conviction in this case.”
However, Hennis said that the case was truly an example of multiple departments working together to achieve justice for a child and his family.
“Mark Hand will have to serve every day of his sentence,” Hennis said. “Today was a very good day.”
The case was tried by Assistant District Attorneys Shannon Jones and Stephanie Breland Wood.
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