Gosnell man appears in court on rape charge - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Gosnell man appears in court on rape charge

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Freddie Sharp III (Source: Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington's Office) Freddie Sharp III (Source: Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington's Office)
Christopher Sowell (Mississippi County Sheriff's Department) Christopher Sowell (Mississippi County Sheriff's Department)
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BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) – A Gosnell man arrested for rape in the case of 11-year-old Jessica Williams appeared in court Wednesday, and was given another court date.

Freddie Sharp III was in Blytheville District Court Wednesday morning, where he was charged with rape. A gag order has been placed on the case.

A judge ordered Sharp to have no contact with Williams' family or any minor child if he made bond. He would also have to wear an electronic monitoring device if released.

Sharp, 29, of Gosnell was arrested by the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department and Arkansas State Police. He is now being represented by Trumann attorney Chet Dunlap.

DNA evidence collected during an autopsy of Williams' body by the Arkansas State Crime Lab matched Sharp's, according to Prosecutor Scott Ellington. Sharp's DNA was among samples collected by investigators.

A court document released by Ellington's office states investigators received notice of the match on Jan. 10.

The document also states Sharp denied rape.

Also on Jan. 10, the teenager charged with 1st degree murder in the death of Williams was released from jail on a $25,000 bond, according to court documents obtained by Region 8 News.

Christopher Sowell, 17, of Gosnell was arrested on August 28, 2013. Originally, his bond was set at two million dollars. Sowell has plead not guilty.

An affidavit released by the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department in 2013, stated Sowell admitted to investigators that he killed Jessica Williams. He told officers he became angry and pushed the girl off the bridge onto the ground. Sowell then said when Jessica got back on the bridge, she said she was going to tell her dad what happened.

According to the affidavit, Sowell told investigators he became even more angry and choked her. Sowell then said he pushed the girl over the side of the bridge into the water and walked away.

An autopsy report suggested Williams' death was caused by strangulation and drowning. She went missing on the night of Aug. 27, 2013 around 6 p.m. but was not reported missing until 9 p.m.

Williams' body was found in a floodway ditch on East County Road 122 near Big Lake on the morning of Aug. 28.

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