The State of Texas has reached a plea deal with the man accused of sexually assaulting and murdering a Graham teenager.
Jeremiah Justin Craft pleaded guilty to charges of Murder, Sexual Assault of a Child, and Tampering With Physical Evidence - Human Corpse. He admitted to killing 16-year-old Bridget Herard.
The Court announced the deal in front of a packed assembly that included members of Bridget's family, including her mother, Mary, who held a framed picture of her daughter close to her heart.
By reaching a plea deal, Craft will serve three concurrent sentences of 45 years for murder, 45 years for sexual assault, and 25 years for tampering.
"Jeremiah and his family both knew the deck of cards were really stacked against him in this case," said Chuck Smith, Craft's attorney. "He didn't have any illusions about what was likely to happen if he were to go to trial. And I mean that not only on the guilt-innocent phase, but the punishment phase of the trial."
He also waives his rights to appeal any of the charges or the court decisions indefinitely.
In a statement to Newschannel 6, Gray says, "Justice was served for the citizens of Young County because with the potential of the trial in a large city, a jury could have returned what the citizens of Young County would consider to be a lenient sentence or unjust verdict...This plea will hopefully begin a healing process from the horrors of having lost Bridget at a tender young age."
And now with Craft locked behind bars for good, the Herard family hopes to do just that.
"It's been a rough year," says Mary Herard, Bridget's mother. "The best thing I can tell [Craft] is that I hope he does find the good Lord because where he's at now, he's not in a good place."
The State agrees not to prosecute Craft for any other felony charges regarding the Herard case.
Herard's body was found in January of 2009, and now a year later, today's ruling came in less than an hour in the courtroom.
Here is a full text of Young County District Attorney Brenda Gray's statement:
Suspect's Judgment of Conviction, Penal Code 37.09(d)(2)
Judgment Penal Code 37.09(d)(2), page 2
Judgment Penal Code 37.09(d)(2), page 3
Judgment of Conviction by Court, Penal Code 22.011
Judgment of Conviction by Court Penal Code 22.011, page 2
Judgment of Conviction by Court Penal Code 22.011, page 3
Judgment of Conviction by Court, Penal Code 19.02(b)(1)
Judgment Penal Code 19.02(b)(1), page 2
Judgment Penal Code 19.02(b)(1), page 3