‘You can’t make this up’ — Mississippi judge sentences ‘modern-day Jezebel’ who killed boyfriend, then got pregnant in jail

Published 5:37 am Saturday, May 28, 2022

Judge Forrest A. “Al” Johnson on Friday sentenced Jessica Aldridge, 34, of Natchez, to the maximum sentence of 20 years for manslaughter and 10 years for felon in possession of a firearm in the killing of her former boyfriend in 2019.

Johnson called for the sentences to run consecutively, but ordered the 10 years for felon in possession of a firearm to be served under supervised release after Aldridge serves 20 years for manslaughter.

“On the 10 years, I consider it part of the crime of manslaughter,” Johnson said. “It is tempting to want to sentence you for the entire 30 years, but I don’t believe that will be justice in this case, even after the pain you have caused.”

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On April 18, Aldridge pleaded guilty to manslaughter and felon in possession of a firearm in an open plea, rather than stand trial on murder charges in the death of Joseph Cupit on March 17, 2019.

Johnson said he received a number of letters on behalf of Cupit from family and friends and that he read “every single letter.”

Johnson said the correct charge in the case was manslaughter.

“This is clearly not a murder case,” he said. “And it is clearly not a case of self-defense.”

After two family members read victim impact letters — one written by Cupit’s oldest daughter and another by his mother — Jessica Aldridge made a brief statement.

“I am very sorry for y’all’s loss and the pain that I caused,” Aldridge said.

Her statement drew no response from the 30 or so family members and friends of Cupit, who came to witness the sentencing.

Aldridge was stoic, showing no emotion during any part of the sentencing hearing, including when she made her statement to the victim’s family.

“I’ve read all of John Grisham and Greg Iles’ novels and they are nothing like this. This is real life. You can’t make this up,” Johnson said to Aldridge when he began to pronounce sentence.

“Miss Aldridge, your life, it’s sad … You were raised by a single mother, molested you said at 7 years old, in and out of court, in treatment. You said you started using drugs at 14. I read all of this and it’s sad, as sad as it can be. You worked in your father’s body shop until you got pregnant, and I noticed you said he was disappointed in you at that point. It’s a sad life.

“But it’s nothing as sad as all these people behind you who have lost a loved one. A father, cousin, nephew, friend, so yes, you’ve had a sad life, but it’s nothing as sad as the pain and sorrow you have caused all these people in here on behalf of Joey Cupit,” Johnson said.

The judge said he has known people who have lived charmed lives.

“I’ve also known the opposite, people like you. Trouble seems to follow you around like a dark cloud hanging over your head, negatively affecting not just yourself but all those around you who follow in your harmful shadow, like Joey Cupit did,” Johnson said.

He said a Blues musician would say Aldridge was born under “a bad sign. You run into nothing but trouble, no matter where you go or whatever you do.

“You and Joey Cupit were in an unhealthy domestic relationship that was highlighted by immorality, drugs and abuse,” Johnson said. “On the day in question, whatever happened inside that house, he had gotten his clothes and was going back up to his Jeep, over 200 feet away and was about to leave. And you were angry and you were upset and you grabbed your 22 pistol that you were not supposed to have. You stepped one foot out the door and fired two shots in his direction.

“One of those shots hits him dead square in the heart. And he died right up there by his Jeep, 200 feet away. By all rights, Joseph Cupit should not be in his grave today. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, those two shots go wild or at the very least would be some non-fatal injury. You could take every law enforcement officer in Adams County and every one of them would have a hard time making this shot that you made with a 22 revolver. That’s a fact.

“With fire in your eyes, anger and hate in your heart, you made a perfect, deadly shot under that dark cloud of yours and hit him right square in the heart. It is unbelievable. He should not be in his grave today,” Johnson said.

He said Aldridge by her own admission purposely became pregnant while awaiting trial in the Adams County Jail in order to get out of jail.

“You are the mother to five children, but I say in name only. While in jail, you deliberately sought to get pregnant and you did, for the sole purpose of getting out of jail. What an insult that is to motherhood.

“So, here you stand, Jessica, a modern-day Jezebel — a shameless, morally corrupt and unrestrained woman who killed Joey Cupit in anger and without justification,” Johnson said. “On the 20 years, you have earned every day, every hour, every minute, every second of that sentence. All these other things in your life, you will have to answer to that.”

Aldridge was also ordered to pay $7,214.14 to the victim’s family for funeral expenses.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch appointed an attorney general special assistant to try the case after Judge Lily Blackmon Sanders removed the Sixth District Attorney Shameca Collins’ office because of a potential conflict. Collins and assistant prosecutor Paul Sullivan were in the courtroom to witness the sentencing.