A McComb man was sentenced to 35 years in prison Thursday for knocking an 87-year-old woman in the head and stealing around $15.

Pike County Circuit Court Judge David Strong sentenced Arlaundrius L. Jones, 28, 120 Gillis Circle, Apt. 11-C, to 20 years for aggravated assault and 15 years for felonious abuse of a vulnerable adult, and fined him $5,000 and court costs.

Jones hit Elizabeth Simmons Magee with a stick at her Brent Road home on Oct. 1, 2018, according to testimony. A jury took about an hour and a half before finding Jones guilty on the two counts but not guilty of armed robbery.

According to testimony in the two-day trial, sheriff’s deputy Mark Thompson responded to the scene on the night of Oct. 1. Deputy Wes Baney was also en route when he saw a vehicle matching the description of the assailant’s  — a white Mercury Mountaineer — speed past. Baney turned around and followed it till it turned off on a driveway on West Topisaw Road, where he made the arrest.

Magee and neighbor L.J. Dillon described seeing the vehicle speed away from Magee’s house with the lights off.

Sheriff’s investigator Delre Smith described interviewing Jones, who reportedly cried after Smith asked him how he would feel if the victim were his grandmother and wanted to write her a letter of apology.

Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center emergency room nurse Chanda McGovern testified that Ms. Magee was treated and released there for her injuries.

The defense called no witnesses.

In closing arguments, assistant district attorney Timothy Jones said Jones was guilty of “beating an 87-year-old lady over the head with a stick — not just beating her over the head, but hard enough to break the stick, no doubt a deadly weapon.”

Jones said Magee sustained injuries to the head and shoulders.

“He attempted to cause physical pain to a lady who could not protect herself,” Jones said. “Mrs. Magee is a textbook definition of a vulnerable adult.”

Defense attorney Toby Welch said the state failed to provide sufficient evidence, mainly a single photo of a tire track and a piece of broken stick turned in months after the attack.

Noting that deputies got a call at 8:10 p.m. and arrested Jones at 8:50, Welch questioned whether Jones would have driven around for 40 minutes in the same area after committing a crime.

Welch also claimed the money found on Jones did not match the amount Magee said he took, nor was there a video of Jones’ statement to an investigator.

“It was so circumstantial, so tangential,” Welch said of the state’s case.

District Attorney Dee Bates said Jones and his vehicle were known in the community, that Magee wasn’t certain how much Jones stole, that he returned to the area to pick up his wife, and that Jones’ statement was on an audio recording.

“He never gave her a chance,” Bates said. “In the darkness he showed up and started beating an 87-year-old lady in the back of the head.”

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