Sweet ordered to jail, pending sentencing hearing

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Judge grants defense request to delay sentencing again, but orders convicted sex offender to be held in custody at regional jail.

INDEPENDENCE — Freddie Lee Sweet of Galax, convicted in a June jury trial on two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child, has been ordered to remain in custody at the New River Valley Regional Jail until he can be sentenced.
A judge issued the order last week, and Sweet, 67, reported to the jail, said Grayson County Commonwealth's Attorney Doug Vaught.
Sweet had been free on a $25,000 bond.
The sentencing hearing has been delayed twice on motions from the defense.
The most recent hearing was to be held Sept. 16. For the second time, the defense made a motion to reschedule the sentencing hearing because the trial transcript will not be ready.
In a press release issued Friday, Vaught said he objected to the continuance requested by attorneys Mike Untiedt and Terry Kilgore.
The defense attorneys argue that it is necessary to have the prepared transcript in hand to assist in preparation of their post-trial motions, Vaught explained.
The jury recommended a sentence of five years in prison and a $20,000 fine on one charge and seven years in prison and a $30,000 fine on the second charge. The offenses occurred April 21, 2007, and involved a girl who was 5 years old at the time.
Judge Berg E. Sergent — the judge assigned by the Virginia Supreme Court to hear the case — held a conference call Sept. 10 with Vaught, the attorneys and Susan Herrington, clerk of Grayson County Circuit Court. Berg considered the motion and the prosecutor's objection, along with the previous continuance granted and the time which has passed since the trial, Vaught said.
Berg granted a conditional continuance until Oct. 27 at 9 a.m., and ordered Sweet to report to the regional jail in Dublin on Sept. 23.
He will be held in custody until the hearing in Grayson Circuit Court.
Berg is hearing the case because Grayson Circuit Court Judge Brett Geisler stepped aside due to a connection with the Sweet family.