Victim’s mother: I won’t take no for answer

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 7, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; As far as Deborah Pilgrim is concerned, she won’t take no for an answer.

But Warren County District Attorney Gill Martin said Wednesday that’s the only answer he has to give.

Edward Wells stood trial in Warren County last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Patty Rabb of Natchez, in July 2000 and leaving her for dead at the bottom of a cliff on U.S. 61 North near Vicksburg. Rabb was paralyzed from the chest down as a result.

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Wells, who was on the run for almost a year after the incident, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in that case and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 15 of those years suspended.

He also received five additional years of post-release supervision and was ordered to make restitution.

Pilgrim said Wednesday she is angry that Wells will only serve five years in prison for the crime.

But now that her daughter has died &045; on Jan. 21, in a Vicksburg convalescent home &045; she is even angrier that he will not be tried again, this time for murder.

&uot;I want to fight to where they have to bring this back up for trial,&uot; Pilgrim said.

But that’s not a possibility, said Martin. Trying someone twice in connection with the same crime would be double jeopardy and, therefore, unconstitutional, he said.

&uot;He (Wells) already (pleaded) to aggravated assault at the time she (Rabb) was alive,&uot; Martin said. &uot;So we can’t bring it back up now, even though she has died.&uot;

The reduced charge was what Rabb herself wanted, Martin said.

Rabb did tell authorities that she could not be absolutely sure that Wells threw her off the bluff because she was unconscious at the time due to a head injury from the assault, Pilgrim said. &uot;But that’s just because Š she was trying not to get him in trouble,&uot; she said.

Due to her injuries Rabb, 32, was in and out of hospitals, physical therapy and nursing homes for the last two-and-a-half years.

As a result, she also became depressed, although she had made some plans for the future, Pilgrim said.

&uot;She wanted to be a speaker to let other women know they don’t have to take the abuse,&uot; Pilgrim said.

The ordeal was also difficult for her family. Medical bills skyrocketed, Medicaid eventually ran out and assistance has been hard to find, Pilgrim said.

In addition, Rabb left five children, three of which have been adopted by a Louisiana couple. The other two children, her mother said, have gone to live with their fathers.

Meanwhile, Pilgrim is faced with the task of gathering her daughter’s personal things from her room &045; a task she still doesn’t know if she can perform.

But she does know one thing &045; she is hiring an attorney to pursue Wells in civil court.

&uot;The public needs to know that justice wasn’t served,&uot; Pilgrim said. &uot;What if it was one of their kids?&uot;