By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Last May, in an exclusive interview with CBS 3 Investigative Reporter Walt Hunter, 11-year-old Virginia Payne explained how she and her two-year-old brother battled a kidnapper trying to drag them off a South Philadelphia street as they walked for a water ice near their home.
Their brave actions earned them a “Courage Award” from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, D.C.
But police and prosecutors say the little girl’s courage went far beyond saving herself and her brother that terrifying day. She fearlessly testified at the trial for Carlos Figueroa-Fagot who tried to abduct her.
She helped convict him and, on this day, sat in court as he was sentenced to 17 to 34 years in prison.
Virginia’s mother, Joanne, said she was “happy” with the sentence hugging the prosecutor and Philadelphia Police investigator assigned to the case outside the Criminal Justice Center.
Mrs. Payne says the tough sentence will be a big step toward helping her children and family heal from the trauma that began on that day nearly two years ago.
The convicted criminal’s attorney, who argued for what he called a “reasonable” sentence claiming his client suffers from psychosis, declined comment.
Mrs. Payne told Walt Hunter she hopes those who see her daughter’s interview on CBS 3 will be inspired by her strength and courage,learning how to spot, battle and win over predators.