Edward Dickson Jr. will spend a total of life plus 100 years in prison thanks to sentences imposed by Circuit Court Judges Andrew C. Baker and Ann Lamar.
Dickson accepted plea agreements in both cases on Thursday at the Panola County Courthouse in Batesville.
The first hearing of the day, before Baker, was expected to run smoothly but had one big bump in the road.
Set to enter pleas of guilty to the charges of aggravated assault, forcible rape and armed robbery, Dickson told Baker he had decided against accepting the plea bargain arranged by District Attorney John Champion and his attorney David Walker.
"I was told that if I changed my mind after signing the plea bargain, I could do so before the judge," Dickson said during the hearing.
Stunned, Baker proceeded to question Dickson.
"By signing this document, you told me you read and understood it and that the terms therein were agreeable," he said. "Now you stand here telling me that you have changed your mind?"
Baker asked Dickson to give his reasoning to which he replied, "I can’t. It’s a secret."
Baker then turned his attention to Walker for explanation on the matter.
"I am just as surprised as you are judge," he said. "This has caught me completely off guard.
"I took Mr. Dickson at his word when he signed the plea agreement, and now he is doing the opposite of what he told me," Walker said.
The judge allowed Walker to consult with Dickson before making the decision to continue.
Following the brief discussion in the jury room of the courthouse, Walker and Dickson emerged with both saying they wished to continue with the plea of guilt for the April 14 kidnapping and rape of a 70-year-old Sardis woman who was attacked when she returned home.
That victim was beaten with a fire poker and a brick and has since recovered after undergoing rehabilitation.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Kelly said, in the event the case were to proceed to trial, the state was prepared to prove that Dickson had, on April 14, 2003, without a reasonable doubt, committed the offenses with which he is charged.
"The state has blood in evidence gained from the scene of the offense," he said. "We also have the fire poker and brick he used on the victim.
"I would say the events of that day took approximately 90 minutes if not more," he said.