Suspect told cops he bought 5-year-old girl some candy. He denied he then raped her

Surveillance videos of kidnapping / sexual battery suspect

Two surveillance videos from 2013 show the the suspect in the case of the kidnapping / sexual battery of a 5-year-old child.
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Two surveillance videos from 2013 show the the suspect in the case of the kidnapping / sexual battery of a 5-year-old child.

The man responsible charged with kidnapping and raping a 5-year-old girl in Bradenton in 2013 told an investigator almost six years ago that he bought candy for the girl before she was attacked, but that it was only a coincidence that they were in the store at the same time, trial testimony revealed Wednesday.

In a videotaped interview with a detective, Dominick Hawkins denied choking and raping the girl in a decrepit mobile home — as the girl testified on Tuesday.

Hawkins said the girl asked him to buy her candy while they were both in the India Bazaar convenience store on U.S. 41 in Bradenton.

“When I left that store, that little girl was nowhere near me,” Hawkins said during the July 17, 2013, interview.

That’s counter to what the jury was shown on Tuesday: Surveillance video footage in which Hawkins and the girl are seen together both inside and outside the store.

Hawkins, 41, was charged with kidnapping a minor under the age of 13 and sexual battery of a minor under the age of 12.

Nearly six years after the kidnapping and rape, the trial got underway on Monday.

In her testimony Tuesday, the girl, now 11, described how Hawkins lured her away from the Wayside Glens mobile home park where she lived to the nearby India Bazaar store and then to a vacant mobile home in the Aloha Estates mobile home park where he choked her, threw her on the ground and raped her.

“Can you tell me why your DNA would be on her,” lead detective Sgt. James Wischer asked Hawkins during the recorded interview played Wednesday.

Hawkins insisted there was no way that was possible. But Wischer let him know he had a “mountain” of evidence against him.

“You had sex with that little girl, Dominick,” Wischer told him.

Jurors in a Manatee County courtroom listened as an 11-year-old girl described her assault and brave escape from a decrepit mobile home in Bradenton nearly six years ago where she was choked and sexually assaulted.

Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.