Stinson seeks sentence reduction

Charles Warner | The Union Daily Times
Kevin Stinson (center) looks up at the judge as his attorney, Benjamin Stitely (right), and Assistant Solicitor John Anthony (left) consult their paperwork during a hearing in the Main Courtroom of the Union County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon. In May in General Sessions Court, Stinson pleaded guilty to attempting to have sex with a 13-year-old girl and was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Mark Hayes of Spartanburg. Stinson was back in court Tuesday asking Hayes to reduce his sentence. Hayes did not immediately rule on Stinson’s request but did say he would review documentation presented by Stitely in making the motion for sentence reduction.

UNION — Two months after he pleaded guilty to trying to have sex with a 13-year-old girl and was sentenced to 10 years in prison a Union man was back in court Tuesday asking that his sentence be reduced.

In a May 6 General Sessions Court hearing before Judge Mark Hayes of Spartanburg, Kevin Stinson, 26, of Union, pleaded guilty to attempted second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. After pleading guilty, Stinson was sentenced by Hayes to 10 years in prison which, under South Carolina law, he will have to serve 85 percent of before being eligible for parole. In addition, upon his release, Stinson will have to register as a sex offender.

Stinson was arrested by deputies with the Union County Sheriff’s Office on the afternoon of July 8 at Foster Park where he’d went to meet with a 13-year-old girl for a sexual encounter. The meeting was the result of a series of text messages between Stinson and the girl who, according to the Solicitor’s Office, told Stinson from the beginning that she was 13. When the girl learned that Stinson was 25, she gave the phone to her mother who, pretending to be her daughter, continued to communicate with Stinson.

The Solicitor’s Office stated that Stinson discussed meeting with the victim, making references to sex acts with her and one of her friends. The victim’s mother then contacted the sheriff’s office where an investigator continued texting with Stinson, arranging for Stinson to meet with the victim on July 8 at Foster Park.

When Stinson arrived at the park, he made his way toward the bathrooms where he thought the victim would be waiting for him and was placed under arrest by deputies.

All this was once again brought before Hayes as Stinson was back in General Sessions Court Tuesday afternoon seeking a reduction in his sentence.

The motion for the reduction in sentence was made by Stinson’s attorney, Benjamin Stitely, who presented Hayes with letters from Stinson’s family supporting him. Stitely said that Stinson had pleaded guilty and had accepted responsibility for his actions. He pointed out that Stinson had nothing like this in his past, adding that as a sex offender he will be monitored once he is released.

Stitely also pointed out that Stinson has a 6-year-old daughter who is now being cared for by his mother and his fiancee. He said that the child’s mother is out of the picture and Stinson is the child’s only biological parent. If Stinson’s current sentence stands, Stitely said Stinson will not be eligible for parole until 2023 and that his daughter will have no one to care for her financially or have a father figure in her life until she is 14.

In response, Deputy Solicitor John Anthony reiterated the facts of the case, detailing Stinson’s contacts with the victim and the sexual activities he proposed engaging in with her, even though she’d told him she was 13. Anthony said that when deputies went to arrest him, Stinson had thrown his cell phone in Foster Park Lake. He added that when he’d went to meet the victim at Foster Park, Stinson had brought three children ages 6, 8 and 11 with him including his daughter.

Anthony described Stinson as an “internet predator” and said that while the reduction in sentence is being requested out of concern for Stinson’s daughter, the court has a responsibility for all children. He said that the best thing that can be done is to keep Stinson in prison, adding that while the state is asking the sentence to remain as it is, if any change is made it should be in the form of an increase rather than a reduction.

In presenting the state’s case to the court, Anthony also reviewed Stinson’s criminal record which he said included petty theft, burglary, and fraudulent use of a credit card. He added that the victim and her family appreciated the sentence Hayes originally handed down and, along with the state, would like to see it remain in place.

When asked if he had anything further to say on behalf of his client, Stitely said that beyond their communications on the phone, Stinson had no contact with the victim. He said that there are persons who did have actual contact with their victims who are serving sentences in length similar to Stinson’s who did not have such contact.

Hayes did not immediately rule on the motion but said he would review the documents presented by Stitely. He added, however, that if there were any reduction in the sentence it would not be substantial.