Local News

Thursday, Jun 05 2014 11:30 AM

Former detentions deputy sentenced to 7 years for assaulting wife

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Former Kern County sheriff detentions deputy James Tackitt Jr. was sentenced to 7 years for assault with a gun on his wife. Defense attorney Janice Kim is at left.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Former Kern County Sheriff detentions deputy James Tackitt Jr. lays his head on the defense table after hearing his sentence of 7 years for assault with a gun on his wife. Tackitt's attorney, Janice Kim, takes notes in the background.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    After hearing his sentence of 7 years for assault with a gun on his wife, former Kern County Sheriff detentions deputy James Tackitt Jr. lowers his head momentarily.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

A former Kern County sheriff's detentions deputy who placed a loaded gun with a round in the chamber to the back of his wife's head as he threatened to kill her was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison.

The wife told Judge John S. Somers she lives in fear of James Ronald Tackitt Jr. and struggles with emotional trauma, including nightmares of him hurting her. The "shameless, controlling, narcissistic" Tackitt deserved a lengthy stay behind bars, she said.

Tackitt, 31, slumped forward and laid his head on the defense table after Somers pronounced sentence. He glanced at times toward supporters in the crowd during the proceedings.

Prosecutor Marcus Cuper said the sentence was appropriate considering the facts of the case. Tackitt had no previous criminal record and this incident appeared to be an aberration, but Cuper said Tackitt's actions were inexcusable and his wife's life will never be the same.

He said cases where law enforcement are accused of wrongdoing can prove especially difficult to prosecute. This one was no exception.

"I think jurors don't want to believe a person in law enforcement is involved in this type of crime," Cuper said.

Family and friends of Tackitt declined to comment.

Deputy Public Defender Janice Kim had asked for Tackitt to be placed on probation and avoid time in custody, but Somers imposed the seven-year sentence after noting the incident involved "highly emotional circumstances ... fraught with peril." He said the incident could easily have resulted in someone being injured or killed.

Bakersfield police responded to Tackitt's home for a report of domestic violence on Jan. 30, 2013. They found Tackitt and his wife had been in an argument.

Tackitt had retrieved a gun at one point, loaded it and forced his wife into a closet, police said. He ordered her to kneel on the ground and then placed the barrel of the gun to the back of her head.

Tackitt repeatedly told her he was going to shoot her and then himself, police said. The wife was able to talk him into letting her leave the house with their young child.

A jury convicted Tackitt on May 8 of assault with a gun on a person. They deadlocked on charges of criminal threats and false imprisonment.

In addition to prison, Tackitt's punishment will include court fees and restitution to his wife in an amount to be determined at another hearing. The wife is requesting almost $21,000.

She said Tackitt was on paid administrative leave from the Sheriff's Office for 16 months following the assault, but failed to pay any money to support her and their daughter.

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