MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 23-year-old Memphis man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for hitting an 11-year-old girl with his vehicle, then raping her. But the girl's family is not at all satisfied with the sentence.
That 40 years is much less than what prosecutors pushed for 23-year-old Larry Ward to receive.
In 2016, Ward hit the 11-year-old while she was walking to Geeter Middle School with his SUV, forced her inside, threatened to kill her, then raped her.
The child was found crying on the side of the road by a woman who called police.
Ward pleaded guilty to the brutal crime, choosing a judge to decide his sentence.
Three witnesses testified at the sentencing hearing.
The state believed overall, Ward should serve 71 years in prison, consecutively, for the various charges he was convicted of, while his attorney argued for 35. Ultimately, Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell decided on 40 years.
The 40 years was a number the victim's family did not want to hear.
"They are not doing well," said Devon Dennis, attorney with the Shelby County District Attorney's Special Victims Unit. "They left in tears. They are very distraught."
"I'm really pleased with the outcome and that he didn't put the family through the heartache of a trial in a matter like this," defense attorney Claiborne Ferguson said.
Following the judge's ruling, Dennis reiterated Ward's criminal history and said he's a danger to the community and also a liability in jail, where he has been written up 20 times.
The judge responded that the court heard no proof there was no hesitation about committing the crime at which the risk to human life is high, saying she would not sentence him consecutively.
"Given this man's age, he is going to be getting out at age 63 and could still present a huge danger to the community," Dennis said.
Ward will be back in court in January, when he will face another rape charge in a different case.
On top of that, investigators discovered another potential victim of Ward's, but right now, she doesn't want to press charges because she is too afraid.