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Child molestation: Man, 73, sentenced to prison

CONYERS -- The local man accused of molesting three female relatives under 12 years old will likely die in prison.

Rockdale County Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation sentenced Edward Paul Wood, 73, to 20 years with 15 years to serve in confinement Wednesday afternoon.

Wood was indicted in August for a March 2009 incident in which a 4-year-old family member said Wood performed sexually inappropriate acts with her in the basement. Assistant District Attorney Debra Sullivan said before the court that the child was visiting from out of state when the incident occurred. Two other female relatives later came forward and said Wood also sexually molested them during the summers of 2003 and 2004 when the girls were 10 and 11 years old, respectively.

Wood pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation Wednesday under a negotiated plea with the District Attorney's Office.

The state's recommendation was a sentence of 20 years with 15 to serve in prison and no contact with any child under 16 years of age.

Wood's attorney Matthew Ledbetter said it was "substantially likely," that a jury would have found Wood guilty and called the sentence fair.

Nation said the negotiated plea was probably in the best interest of the three victims, who would have likely have had to go before the court to testify if the case went to trial.

Nation told the court that he once had a defendant convicted of three counts of aggravated child molestation and sentenced to 75 years in prison with the balance of his life on probation.

"I'm going to approve the sentence recommendation as requested by the state ... registration as a sex offender, that will be part of the sentence, if he survives the sentence," Nation said. "I expect they'll keep him for the 15 years, so he'll be 88 before he gets out."

Wood had been in custody at the Rockdale County Jail since his April 2009 arrest.