21-year-old Peorian linked to four recent sexual assaults
The county’s top prosecutor believes a 21-year-old Peoria man is responsible for sexual assaults on four girls since June, including one earlier this month.
Monterius Hinkle, 2805 W. Malone St., is expected to appear before a judge this afternoon on charges from a Sept. 14 assault in which he allegedly accosted a 16-year-old girl as she walked to school on Ann Street.
The case is similar to the Jan. 16 assault of a 16-year-old Trewyn Middle School student walking to school. Hinkle allegedly approached her, put her in a choke hold, dragged her into a house and then assaulted her. He later was arrested and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault.
Media coverage of that case led to the new charges, said Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons.
"The defendant’s recent appearance in the newspaper with the description of the attack, that prompted a victim to contact police to ask them to consider a link between an attack against her and that one," he said.
And if Lyons has his way, Hinkle also likely will see a slew of charges stemming from two additional, separate sexual assaults earlier in the summer.
"Clearly we want to shackle the defendant as tightly and as long as possible," he said of Hinkle, whom he thinks has grown more cunning and leaves phony evidence to throw off authorities.
Lyons said he believes the victims and recognizes the public’s outcry that a man that police believe is a sexual predator hasn’t been charged as often as he’s been arrested. As a prosecutor, he said he’s under a duty not to bring a case he knows he can’t win.
Jurors have "raised the burden of proof for a female victim to an unreachable level," he said.
DNA evidence for one of the cases, Lyons didn’t say which one, recently came back and could be the last bit needed for another charge.
An Aug. 4 incident involving a 13-year-old girl was brought before the grand jury, but it quickly became clear the case was problematic.
The girl and several others were sleeping over in a main room at the home where Hinkle stayed. At some point, Hinkle arrived home and allegedly took the girl into the backyard, threatened her with a knife and then assaulted her.
Grand jurors peppered the arresting officers with questions. How could no one hear her? How did he pick the girl out of everyone there? Even the fact that a portion of the backyard was disturbed and police found evidence at the scene didn’t help.
Jurors wanted the girl to take the stand, a move considered but rejected given that Hinkle’s juvenile probation was revoked and he was going to back to prison anyway. The thought, Lyons said, was to hold off, hoping more evidence would surface.
Hinkle was released just weeks before he allegedly attacked the Trewyn student.
A June 28 case involved a 12-year-old girl walking to summer school who was grabbed by Hinkle and assaulted in a nearby house. Lyons said the girl is credible but there were too many "collateral" issues that his prosecutors would have to deal with.
"Regrettably, this is a time when many juries are requiring a higher standard of proof, so a couple of side issues that were clearly untrue or perhaps defensive mechanisms that her psyche created could hurt the case," he said.
Hinkle remains in custody on $200,000 bond pending his trial on the Jan. 16 incident. If convicted of that crime, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at (309) 686-3283 or email@example.com. Leslie Fark contributed to this story.