A man who kidnapped one girl and sexually assaulted another will spend the rest of his life in jail and the little girl he kidnapped is talking only to 11 News.
41–year–old Michael Byerrum has been sentenced to 88 years to life in prison on kidnapping and sex assault charges.
One of his two victims was in court this morning to watch as her kidnapper was sentenced.
11 News spoke exclusively with ten-year-old Tabitha Carroll.
The little girl is being hailed as a hero by investigators, the judge on the case and her family. They say she is one extremely brave little girl.
During his sentencing on Wednesday morning she had to brave one more thing as she sat in the courtroom and looked in the eyes of a man who snatched her while she was playing.
"I'm happy that he is put away," Tabitha Carroll told 11 News on Wednesday.
As she clutched her teddy bear, ten–year–old Tabitha Carroll had very strong words for the man who tried to take her from her family.
"I wanted to see that he would stay in there for the rest of his life so he's suffering now," said Carroll.
Tabitha was playing near her house at Monument Ridge Townhomes in Orchard Mesa last summer.
When 41–year–old Michael Byerrum drove up in a sedan and said he needed help finding a lost kitten. According to an arrest affidavit, he grabbed her and threw her in his trunk.
Tabitha told deputies a little while later that he took her out, threatened to cut her throat, and tried to put a bandana on her face.
Tabitha fought back--she bit Byerrum's nose and got away.
Officers found the ten-year-old wandering alone and after a 24–hour manhunt, they found and arrested Byerrum--his face still bloodied from the ten-year-old's bite.
Lana tanner lives in the Monument Ridge Townhomes, her son was playing with Tabitha that day and saw her get grabbed.
"It could have been him," Tanner told 11 News on Wednesday.
She says she's proud of the little girl.
"That was one brave little girl, she was fighting for her life," said Tanner.
She said she's happy Byerrum will stay behind bars and it's a lesson to all parents.
"You have to watch your children."
Now, she never lets her son out of her sight.
And it's Tabitha's sight that helped build a case against Byerrum.
After his arrest, the ten–year–old identified him in a line–up.
Now eight months later, with her kidnapper headed to prison Tabitha Carroll is looking forward to getting back to her life.
Investigators say one of the most disturbing things is that Byerrum was already on probation for kidnapping when he kidnapped Tabitha Carrol.
He had served eight years in prison in a case from 1994.
The judge said Wednesday that the 1994 case and more than a dozen other arrests in Colorado and Texas played into the lengthy sentence.
Byerrum agreed with the judge in court and apologized to Tabitha.
He said he wanted her to be able to move on even if that meant spending the rest of his life in jail.
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