Convicted sex offender receives 20-year sentence

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, November 16, 2022

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Matthew Riley Ziglar, 22, of Red Level was sentenced Tuesday following his August conviction for Sexual Abuse of a Child Under 12.

Circuit Judge Charles A. “Lex” Short presided, sentencing Ziglar to the maximum possible sentence of 20 years. Ziglar will not be eligible for probation, parole, or to earn incentive time deductions, commonly known as “good time.”

Assistant District Attorney Nikki Stephens prosecuted the case for the state and expressed her appreciation for Judge Short’s sentence.

“Child sexual abuse cases are always difficult for a number of reasons. Ziglar is particularly unsettling as he elected to use a ‘victim-blaming’ strategy at trial, and his victim was only 11. It’s both disturbing and pathetic that he chooses to blame her and continues to take no responsibility for his action,” Stephens said.

Before pronouncing the sentence, Short asked Ziglar if he had anything to say. Ziglar declined. As part of his sentence, Short also ordered Ziglar to pay a $5,000 fine, $100 to the Alabama Victim’s Compensation Fund, $70 restitution to the Covington County Child Advocacy Center, and his attorney’s fees and costs.

District Attorney Walt Merrell expressed his thanks to Stephens for her work on the prosecution, and to all the others involved.

“I hope that the guilty verdict, and now this maximum sentence, will bring closure for the victim. We cannot undo the damage, but a whole team of people has worked to bring this to a successful conclusion and we are proud of that work and the end result. Ziglar has a long time to think about what he did and ultimately decide that he was responsible for his actions in molesting an 11-year-old child,” Merrell said.

Stephens reiterated Merrell’s sentiments about the team of people who brought the case to this point and particularly thanked Covington County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Joey Cato and Investigator Cody Holmes for their contributions.

“Ziglar has lots of time left to serve and will come out of prison as a registered sex offender for the remainder of his lifetime,” she said. “Perhaps his prison sentence and his sex offender registration will deter any future similar conduct.”