Cape man who attempted suicide pleads guilty to child molestation

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Quinton Headrick Jr.

Quinton Headrick Jr.'s sister says she's glad her brother failed his public suicide attempt in April, when he was hit by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 55 seconds after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face.

As far as she is concerned, that would be the easy way out.

"He did that so he wouldn't have to go to prison," the 39-year-old Cape Girardeau woman, whose name is being withheld to protect the victim of Headrick's crime, said Tuesday outside the courthouse in Jackson. "He would rather have died than go to prison. I don't think he should get what he wants.

"Not after what he did to my daughter."

Headrick, 43, of Cape Girardeau, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge of first-degree child molestation, admitting that two days before his suicide attempt he sexually assaulted his 12-year-old niece. Headrick, wearing orange county jail garb, was confined to a wheelchair with his hands and feet shackled. He kept his head down, rarely looking up.

As Judge William Syler pronounced Headrick's sentence of 10 years in prison, the victim's father trembled, fists clenched, and looked to be trying to restrain himself from the front row of the gallery. Two extra deputies were brought in to ensure order. One had to chastise the gallery for a public outburst. The victim's mother and aunts were reduced to tears throughout much of the court proceedings.

Headrick was originally charged in June with first-degree sodomy of a child younger than 14, for which he could have been sentenced up to life in prison but no less than five years. Tuesday's plea bargain to the felony molestation charge could have carried a punishment of up to 15 years in prison.

Cape Girardeau County assistant prosecutor Jack Koester told Syler that the assault took place at the defendant's home while he was watching his niece. After the inappropriate touching, the victim fled to the bathroom, locked the door and called her mother. Her mother immediately contacted law enforcement.

An investigation had begun when, two days later, police and medical personnel responded to an emergency call at about 9 a.m. to I-55's easternmost southbound lane near mile marker 90. It was later learned that Headrick had exited a truck and had been hit by an 18-wheel tractor-trailer. It was only after Headrick was taken to the hospital that police learned that he had shot himself in the face.

In court Tuesday, Headrick looked largely unscathed from the incident, with only two scars on his face. He was confined to a wheelchair. Headrick has been in custody at the Cape Girardeau County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.

After the sentencing, the victim's mother called Headrick "sick" and added that she no longer considers him her brother.

"When he called me and told me what he done, he said he was no child molester but that he had done that anyway," the girl's mother said. "I'm glad he took the plea bargain. The last thing my daughter needs is to have to get up on the witness stand in front of a bunch of people and relive all that."

The girl has been severely affected psychologically, her mother said, but said the girl has been getting counseling. The victim was not in the courtroom Tuesday.

The girl's mother said after it was all over that 10 years was probably too short a sentence for such a heinous crime.

"It's not really enough," she said. "But I'm glad it's over."

smoyers@semissourian.com

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