Mississippi man under house arrest charged with kidnapping, assaulting two young boys

James Harold Smith in a booking photo, top, released by the Hancock County Sheriff's Office and in an undated intake photo with the Mississippi Corrections Department, below.

A Mississippi man, who was supposed to be wearing a monitoring bracelet, allegedly kidnapped two young brothers, sexually assaulted them and slashed the throat of one — who still managed to escape and get help — authorities said Thursday.

The man, James Harold Smith, 41, of Leetown, Miss., was being held Thursday in the Hancock County jail on $3.5 million bond on charges of attempted murder, sexual battery, kidnapping and resisting arrest in the attack Wednesday on the two boys, ages 8 and 5.

The older boy, whose throat was cut, was reported stable Thursday at the University of South Alabama Hospital in Mobile. 

The Hancock County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that the boys were taken late Wednesday afternoon in Pearl River County about 60 miles northeast of New Orleans. They were found at Smith's mobile home in neighboring Hancock County.

Investigators believe Smith sexually assaulted both boys and cut the older boy's throat, the sheriff's office said. Bleeding heavily, the older boy managed to escape and run to a nearby home.

When emergency officials arrived, Smith drove off with the younger boy, but deputies blocked his car, according to the sheriff's office. Smith abandoned the car and the child and was pursued on foot by police, who took him into custody, it said.

Smith was sentenced early this year to five years in prison under Mississippi's racketeering law for drug violations and assaulting a police officer in Pearl River County, state corrections records show. But he served only four months and was freed under house arrest on June 21 after he completed drug and alcohol rehab.

Under terms of his release, Smith was supposed to wear a monitoring bracelet tracking where he was at all times, but when he was arrested, "no bracelet was seen by me," Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam told The Picayune Item newspaper.

"It's a shame," Pearl River County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Shane Tucker told The Associated Press. "If he had been serving his sentence, he wouldn't have been free to commit this crime." 

Even if Smith manages to come up with the $3.5 million bond, he can't be released pending his court appearance.

Court records showed that after his arrest Wednesday, the state Corrections Department also ordered him held for allegedly violating the terms of his probation, and he was denied bond on that order.

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