The girlfriend of a man who had already been convicted of first degree sex offense with a child also entered a guilty plea to the events of 2010 and was also sentenced to prison last week in Catawba County.
Amy Norris Branch, 38, or 3684 Red Norris Drive in Maiden, was sentenced to serve four-to-six years in prison following her conviction on three counts of solicitation to commit a sexual offense with a child. Judge Daniel Kuehnert sentenced Branch Thursday (Feb. 21st) after she entered a guilty plea in Catawba County Superior Court.
Branch didn't really get much extra prison time; her sentence will run concurrent to a six-year prison term she was already serving following a 2017 conviction in Davie County. That sentence, also for sex abuse of a child, is set to expire in January 2020. Branch will have to remain registered as a sex offender for the rest of her life and is subject to lifetime satellite-based monitoring.
A co-defendant in the Catawba County case, 38-year-old Jamie Walter Merritt, whose addresses included Tobaccoville in Forsyth County and the same Maiden address as Branch, pleaded guilty January 15th to three counts of first-degree statutory sex offense in Catawba County and was sentenced to an active prison term of 20-to-25 years. He, too, had been convicted in Davie County in 2016 of a similar crime, and prior to his latest conviction, would have been released in 2029. The new sentence adds eight years to what he will now be imprisoned. He, too, will be subject to monitoring and remain registered as a sex offender.
The investigation leading to the latest convictions began in 2015 when Merritt was questioned by the Claremont Police Department, who were investigating a report that Merritt and Branch used Benadryl to drug a 10-year-old girl in late 2010 so that Merritt could have oral sex with the child. The abuse of the child occurred on three occasions from September - December 2010.
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