Manatee County judge: No bond for accused child rapist

jdeleon@bradenton.comJuly 19, 2013 

BRADENTON -- A Manatee County judge Thursday ordered kidnapping and rape suspect Dominick Jerome Hawkins to be held without bond.

He also ordered Hawkins to appear in court at a 1 p.m. hearing Friday.

Judge Peter Dubensky set a $2 million bond on the kidnapping charge and ordered Hawkins held without bond on a charge of sexual assault. If convicted, Hawkins could be sentenced to life in prison.

Dubensky expressed reservations about the case presented by Manatee County detectives against Hawkins as did the public defender.

"This penalty requires a full evidentiary hearing," Dubensky said. "All I have is a blanket statement and it's not even from the child."

Hawkins, 36, was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Sarasota after a 48-hour manhunt led by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office following the discovery a 5-year-old girl had reportedly been kidnapped and raped Monday in a Bradenton mobile home park.

The girl was able to escape after the attack by slipping out through an open window in the locked mobile home where the assault allegedly took place. She was treated and released back home to her family.

The victim's parents were in the courtroom Thursday, accompanied by victim's advocates. They did not comment.

Assistant State Attorney Cynthia Santinello Evers asked Hawkins be held without bond based on the facts of the case and his prior conviction history.

"In 2007 he was released from prison in North Carolina on two count of first-degree kidnapping," Evers said. "Then he came to Florida and his record in Florida began in 2008."

Hawkins has multiple convictions in Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and California.

According to the arrest report, Hawkins was walking through the Wayside Glen Mobile Home Park, 5120 14 St. W., at about 12:15 p.m. Monday when he came in contact with the victim.

"The defendant approached the child and asked her to leave with him, using a promise of candy," Manatee County Sheriff's Office Detective James Wischer reported. "The child voluntarily left the park with the defendant and walked north to the India Bizarre convenience, 5112 14th St. W."

Video surveillance shows Hawkins and the girl in the store together.

He then allegedly walked with her past Wayside Glen to the Aloha Mobile Home Park, 5310 14th St. W., and into a vacant mobile home where the assault took place.

"While he was sexually battering the child, the defendant was also choking her, his hands around her throat, and was telling her to 'shut up and be quiet,' " Wischer reported.

The report details how after the assault, Hawkins allegedly locked the young victim in the vacant mobile home and began walking away. At about 12:45 p.m. Hawkins appears on video surveillance trying to board a southbound Manatee County bus as the victim in seen in the background running home.

The child told family members about the attack and they called 911. She was taken to a local hospital and then to Manatee Children's Services. A forensic interview and medical exam were conducted.

A Crimestoppers tip Tuesday night indicated Hawkins lived in Wayside Glen earlier this year. Detectives were then able to identify the suspect by name and they found an old mug shot.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office reached out to the Sarasota Police Department and Sarasota County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday night giving them the name, photo and video of the suspect.

Wednesday afternoon Hawkins was spotted by a Sarasota police detective and he reportedly agreed to go to the police station for questioning. Wischer conducted the interview.

Hawkins told Wischer he did walk through Wayside Glen that day and had gone to the India Bazaar to buy a drink.

"He stated that while at the store, the victim asked him to buy her some candy," Wischer reported. "He said he did buy the candy for her, but then left her at the store."

Hawkins also reportedly admitted to being the person seen on the bus surveillance video and said he had discarded his shirt and bag seen earlier on video.

When questioned about the sexual assault, however, Hawkins denied being in the mobile home with the victim or assaulting her.

Hawkins was recently sought by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office for questioning after his twin 4-year-old boys were found wandering in an Oneco neighborhood at night June 11. Hawkins' wife had reportedly gone to do laundry and returned later to find no one home.

A neighbor found the boys wandering and called the Mantee County Sheriff's Office, which took the boys into custody.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon112.

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