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Man gets 27 years for 'bath salts' attack in Biloxi

BILOXI -- A man who said he was under the influence of "bath salts" when he attacked a Biloxi resident during a burglary has been ordered to prison for 27 years.Ricky Dale Reed, 33, of Vancleave, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to burglary of a dwelling and aggravated assault with a knife.

The bath salts are not the cosmetic kind used for soaking in a tub. They're a designer drug made by "street chemists" as a stimulant similar to meth and cocaine, and have been linked to violent, psychotic episodes nationwide.

"We have seen an alarming growth in the illegal use of bath salts over the last couple of years with some horrible consequences to those who use it and to innocent bystanders who often become their victims," District Attorney Joel Smith said.Reed's crimes in Biloxi occurred Aug. 30, 2010, at a home on Popp's Ferry Road while Reed was on probation for conviction of burglarizing a home in Jackson County, Assistant District Attorney George Huffman said.

The evidence showed Reed went in the house of an acquaintance through an unlocked back door and appeared to be under the influence of a drug, Huffman said.

The resident told police he woke up about 5 a.m. and felt a knife cutting the left side of his neck. The commotion that followed woke up the man's girlfriend and they were able to scare Reed away, but before Reed left, he begged the wounded man to let him sew up his cut, Huffman said.The wounded man was treated at a hospital. His injuries were not life-threatening.

Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson sentenced Reed to 20 years in prison and suspended eight years, leaving 12 to serve, followed by three years of post-release supervision.

She ordered Reed to serve the prison term consecutively to a 15-year sentence for violating his probation on the burglary in Jackson County. That gives Reed a total of 27 years to serve.The assault occurred months before Mississippi lawmakers banned the sale of the synthetic drug.

Most recently, Miami police suspect bath salts were involved May 26 when a naked man was found chewing on a homeless man's face. He was shot to death when he refused to stop, according to wire reports.

In Mississippi, a Fulton man made headlines last year after telling authorities he was high on bath salts when he took a knife and slashed his own face and stomach.

In a different case, state investigators have said a Pontotoc man had bath salts in his system after his arrest in the fatal shooting of a Tippah County deputy sheriff in December 2010.Data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers shows 6,138 bath-salt emergencies reported in 2011, compared with 303 in 2010. More than 1,000 have been reported this year through April 30.