Stinson denied sentence reduction

Charles Warner|The Union Daily Times Kevin Stinson (center) looks up at the judge as his attorney Benjamin Stitely (right) and Solicitor John Anthony (left) consult their paperwork during a hearing in the Main Courtroom of the Union County Courthouse. During General Sessions Court in May, 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 rule immediately on the request, saying he wanted to review some information submitted by Stinson’s attorney. On Thursday, Hayes denied Stinson’s request for a reduced sentence.

UNION — A man’s request that his 10-year prison sentence for trying to have sex with an underage girl be reduced has been denied by the judge who originally sentenced him.

On May 6 during a General Sessions Court hearing in the Main Courtroom of the Union County Courthouse, Kevin Stinson, 26, of Union, pleaded guilty to attempted second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Stinson was then sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Mark Hayes of Spartanburg to 10 years in prison, 85 percent of which Stinson will have to serve before being eligible for parole.

Two months after he was sentenced, Stinson was again before Hayes in the Main Courtroom of the Union County Courthouse on Tuesday to ask that his sentence be reduced. Hayes did not initially rule on Stinson’s request, but said he would first review documents provided by Stinson’s attorney, Public Defender Erik Delaney. As he adjourned Tuesday’s hearing, Hayes said that if he did decide to reduce Stinson’s sentence, the reduction would not be substantial.

Late Thursday afternoon, Hayes made his ruling, denying Stinson’s request that his sentence be reduced.

Stinson was arrested by deputies with the Union County Sheriff’s Office on July 8, 2015 at Foster Park Lake where he’d went to meet 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, had told Stinson from the beginning that she was 13. When the girl learned Stinson was 25, she turned the phone over to her mother who, pretending to be her daughter, continued texting 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 Stinson, arranging for Stinson to meet with the victim on July 8, 2015 at Foster Park.

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

The motion for the reduction in Stinson’s sentence was made by 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 when 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 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 threw 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 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, 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 handed down in May 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 there are persons who did have actual contact with their victims who are serving sentences in length similar to the one being served by Stinson who did not have such contact.