LARGO — In May 2003, Mark Decosta Walcott pleaded guilty to molesting a child, but was allowed to remain out of jail on bond until his sentencing hearing the following month.
But the Largo man never showed up.
Instead, authorities said, he fled to his homeland of Barbados. He was found there and extradited to Florida in June.
Monday, the 43-year-old learned his fate. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico sentenced Walcott to eight years in prison.
In court Monday, Walcott said he didn't fully understand his public defender at the time and did not want to accept the 2003 plea agreement that would have sent him to prison for 51 months.
The answer, Federico said, was to ask for a jury trial, not "run like a coward from the whole situation. There's no excuse for that."
Assistant state attorney Chris Ballard said Walcott's victim told investigators about six incidents where Walcott used sexually explicit language or touched the girl under her clothing between July 2001 and February 2002. The girl was 12 and 13 at the time of the incidents, he said.
Walcott's mother, who spoke on her son's behalf, said her son told her he grabbed the girl on her breast and crotch area because the girl had first grabbed his genitals and refused to let go.
His attorney, Jason Bangos, said his client was trying to discipline the girl, not molest her.
"I made a mistake touching this girl, but it was not for pleasure," Walcott said.
Bangos said his client had never been in trouble with authorities before the molestation allegation was made and had not had any run-ins with the law during the seven years he was in Barbados.
But, he said, "It's never a good decision not to show up for court."
Rita Farlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.