Thomas Andrew Woods, 25, pleaded guilty earlier this week.
Woods was sentenced to spend 20 years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. He was charged with kidnapping, cruelty to children and false imprisonment, all felonies, in addition to driving without a license, driving on a suspended license and possession of marijuana.
According to police at the time of the incident, Woods attempted to grab the girl while inside the store at about 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 8. He tried to pick her up and carry her out of the store, police said.
“She did the right thing,” said Bremen Police Chief Keith Pesnell. “She fought back, and he put her down. We’re deeming the little girl a hero. She did everything right.”
Woods tried to take the girl from a toy aisle while her mother was in a different aisle, Pesnell said. Security video from the store shows a man carrying the girl away and releasing her after she struggled to get away.
Pesnell said Woods was out on parole after being convicted of voluntary manslaughter in DeKalb County.
Woods was indicted by the grand jury of the Haralson County Superior Court in May in what was called a “special convention” of the grand jury. The special grand jury occurred two weeks before the grand jury was scheduled to review cases for indictment.
Assistant District Attorney Carmen Bolden, who was assigned to prosecute the case against Woods, said before the indictment that the move to call the grand jury early was in an effort to prevent Woods from receiving a bond in Haralson County Superior Court. In the state of Georgia, she said, if a case is not indicted within 90 days, the accused is entitled to a bond.
“This fellow’s criminal history and the severity of the charges are definitely something that makes this a little more special,” Bolden said. “The normal scheduling was already on the 21st, but had we waited until the 21st in this case, it would have been after the 90 days.”
According to information from the Georgia Department of Corrections, Woods was convicted of voluntary manslaughter stemming from a case in Dekalb County in 2004. He received a 20-year sentence in 2007, of which he served four and a half years in the Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo, Ga. He was released on Oct. 19, 2011, and expected to serve on probation for the remaining 13 years of his sentence.