Maurice Bailey, 22, of Warrenton was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison in connection with the killing of a 19-year-old Rappahannock woman two years ago.
Bailey pleaded guilty in December to robbing, abducting and fatally stabbing his friend Jessica Ann Pruitt in June 2001. Pruitt, a receptionist in a Warrenton doctor's office, had ambitions to be a veterinarian.
Before his sentencing, Bailey, wearing a green prisoner's jumpsuit, looked out at the court gallery filled with members of his family and Pruitt's, and he apologized. He asked Fauquier Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Parker for leniency so he could raise his 14-month-old son and teach him "not to be like his father."
"The only person I was looking out for was myself," Bailey said, speaking gruffly while hunched over the witness stand with his eyes barely open. "Jessica was a great girl. She really was."
Bailey had been charged with capital murder, which carries the death penalty. But Fauquier Commonwealth's Attorney Jonathan S. Lynn reduced the charge to first-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Lynn told the judge Tuesday that Bailey deserved the entire sentence because of the heinous nature of the slaying. On the evening of June 15, 2001, Lynn said, Pruitt was giving Bailey a ride to a friend's house when the two began arguing over Bailey's demand for money to buy marijuana.
Lynn said Bailey stripped off Pruitt's clothes, stabbed her several times and stuffed her into the trunk of her car, a Pontiac Sunfire that he drove around Fauquier while Pruitt bled to death. Later, Lynn said, Bailey used her bank card at an automated teller machine to obtain $200, Lynn said.
According to Lynn, Bailey then tried to cover up the slaying, calling the Pruitt home in Castleton the next morning and asking her parents, Hugh and Anne Christine Pruitt, where she was. He then filled grocery bags with her bloodied clothing and stashed them in various places around the county, Lynn said.
Bailey was arrested that weekend and charged with unauthorized use of Pruitt's vehicle. Sheriff's deputies found Pruitt's body two weeks later in a wooded area near the northern Fauquier town of Orlean.
In May 2002, Bailey told investigators that another person had killed Pruitt, but he confessed to driving her body around the county and stealing her money. Lynn said investigators determined that the other person, a friend of Bailey's, was somewhere else at the time of the slaying.
Parker called the act "coldblooded" and "senseless." Immediately after the judge pronounced the sentence, Hugh Pruitt and his son, Travis, 24, slapped hands and smiled.