Circuit Judge Melvyn W. Wiesman had asked the now 8 year old on September 25 to think about what she felt would be appropriate for her attacker to receive as punishment, and to write him a letter. She did. She asked, “That he go away for 60 years…because when he gets out he won't hurt any other person.” She asked that her attacker get sixty years in prison for what he did to her and Thursday morning that is exactly what Circuit Judge Melvyn W. Wiesman did, he sentenced her attacker to 60 years in prison. The judge ordered consecutive terms be served and in the end her attacker will not be eligible for parole until 2056.
The girl, kidnapped, from in front of her home on November 11, 2005 at the age of six was brutally attacked, kicked, punched, stabbed, stomped, sexually assaulted, and left for dead by the railroad tracks. The next morning a police officer helping in the search found the little girl who had crawled through a fence into a yard from the night before. She was in critical condition, with bruises from head to toe, a severe head injury, a liver laceration, a partially avulsed ear. This strong little girl knew her attacker and identified him from a photograph from her hospital bed. It was a classmate, Sherman Burnett. Sherman was 13.
Even typing that number seems hard to comprehend, 2056. If it is so difficult to type the number and contemplate the year, then how difficult must it be for a 15 year old to contemplate the year 2056? That is how long Sherman Burnett, will remain behind bars. Yet it is said when the judge read his sentence he showed no emotion. Not so hard to imagine when one realizes that after leaving her for dead he returned to the neighborhood and began helping in the search to find her.
Brent Brueck, a senior program administrator for the Missouri Division of Youth Services recently met with Burnett regarding the teen’s eligibility to participate in a dual jurisdiction juvenile program between the Division of Youth Services and the Department of Corrections. During the evaluation, Brueck wanted to get a feel regarding Samuel’s remorse level. There was none. Samuel blames the little girl for causing the attack. He stated to Brueck in the interview that “she threw a rock and that made him mad.”
Samuel Burnett will be approximately 66 years when he gets out of prison. The judge denied Burnett’s lawyers request to allow him to go to a juvenile facility. Burnett has already been the youngest inmate housed in the Saint Louis County Adult Correctional Facility while he awaited trial and sentencing the last two years. He will serve his time in the adult section of prison, which can frighten grown men. I wonder if he is scared. I will say a prayer for Samuel Burnett, as I continue to wonder who hurt him so bad to make him so angry and violent at such a young age.