A 44-year-old Pheba, Miss., man originally charged with 10 counts of sexual battery and two counts of rape of a child is sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to two of the charges.
Meanwhile, his wife has been ordered into a mental hospital for treatment to see whether she ever will be mentally competent to stand trial.
Wilber Shepard pleaded guilty Wednesday in Clay County Circuit Court to two counts of sexual battery. As part of a plea bargain agreement that protected the victims from having to testify, Coleman sentenced Shepard to two concurrent 25-year sentences. He must serve the time day-for-day with no eligibility for early release.
Shepard was arrested June 24, 2016, on charges that between June 1, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2016, he sexually assaulted a girl who was between the ages of 10 and 14 at the time, and that between June 1, 2012, and Oct. 31, 2015, sexually assaulted another girl when she was between the ages of 9 and 13.
The girls, and a third male child, have been in protective custody since Wilber Shepard and his wife, Tammy, 37, were arrested.
Investigators found no evidence the male child was abused, according to court records.
Wilber Shepard had been scheduled to stand trial April 4 in Clay Circuit Court.
Tammy Shepard was charged with being an accessory after the fact to her husband’s crimes.
In an order filed in February, Judge Coleman ordered her committed to the Mississippi State Hospital for inpatient competence restoration after a mental evaluation determined she had mental issues and might not be competent. The hospital is to provide updates every four months on whether she will “become mentally competent to stand trial with the foreseeable future.”