An Improve man will serve 20 years day-for-day after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography.
Paul Matthew Wheat, 41, is now serving his time at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl after being sentenced Jan. 16 on two counts of child exploitation.
Marion County Circuit Judge Prentiss Harrell gave Wheat 40 years with 20 years to serve and 20 years of probation. He will serve both counts concurrently and will be required to register as a sex offender upon release. Wheat also received a $50,000 fine plus court costs.
District Attorney Hal Kittrell said he normally tries to help people reform, but when it comes to pedophilia it's not an area where rehabilitation is usually possible so his office presses for strong sentences.
"I hope it speaks to anyone wanting to exploit children," Kittrell said.
He commended the Marion County Sheriff's Office for its work in the investigation and Assistant District Attorney Laurel Brinkley for prosecuting the case.
Wheat had been arrested on Oct. 2, 2018, after investigators received allegations and obtained a search warrant for his home off Mississippi 44. They found images of child pornography and seized several devices, according to reports from the sheriff's office at the time.
Three additional counts of child exploitation were dismissed as part of the guilty plea.