Man accused of abuse in dungeon defends self

/ Source: The Associated Press

A convicted sex offender insisted on the witness stand Sunday that he was telling the truth and denied raping two teenage girls in an underground room he built behind his home.

During an hour of often contentious cross-examination, Kenneth Glenn Hinson reiterated what he told the jury Saturday — that sex he had with two then 17-year-old girls in March 2006 was consensual and that he hid from police for four days because he thought they wanted him on drug charges.

The two girls have testified that Hinson, 48, took them from a bedroom in their Darlington County home while they slept and dragged them to a secret underground room. Prosecutors allege he bound them with duct tape, raped them and left them to die because the room had no air supply. The girls managed to free themselves and escape, prosecutors maintain.

The girls names are being withheld because The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sex crimes.

Hinson is charged with two counts each of criminal sexual assault, kidnapping and assault and battery with intent to kill. If convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence under the state’s two-strikes law.

Lawyers for both sides presented their closing arguments Sunday and the judge was expected to turn the case over to the jury later that day.

The underground room was built under Hinson’s tool shed. It was about the length and width of a mid-sized car with a ceiling about 4½ feet high.

Hinson said he built it for packaging marijuana. He said he had about four pounds hidden in the room the night the girls said they were attacked. He testified Sunday about how he carefully built the room over two years.

“Is it true the only thing more carefully constructed than that underground dungeon was the story you told this jury yesterday?” prosecutor Jennifer Evans asked.

“All I can say is that it matches the evidence,” Hinson replied.

A defense witness, Tim Beasley, said that at a house where he had bought drugs, he overheard one of the teens tell a woman the two girls made up the kidnapping story because they had stolen marijuana from Hinson’s underground room and were afraid he would retaliate.

Evans pointed out Beasley was a convicted felon whose charges included conspiracy.

Hinson was convicted in 1991 for the rape of a 12-year-old girl. Two review committees recommended that Hinson be committed to a state program for sexually violent predators after serving a nine-year prison sentence, warning he could commit a future sex crime. However, a judge rejected the plan and set Hinson free.