By DAN ROBINSON, Times staff writer
The family of Charles Hinkle tried to convince Hardin County Common Pleas Judge Scott Barrett that the McGuffey man has changed.
They contended he is no longer the short-tempered boyfriend who ran over his fiancée with his car, but a reformed model worker, devoted father of three and fiancé who has been changed through Christianity.
But Barrett wasn’t convinced and sent Hinkle to prison for more than six years during sentencing on Thursday.
In December, a jury of ten women and two men also were unconvinced, when they found Hinkle guilty of nine charges including aggravated vehicular assault, assault, failure to stop, domestic violence and operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
During the trial, the jury heard witnesses for five days describe what had happened in July, 2019, after Hinkle and fiancée Tyanna Parks left a party at a home near Belle Center. As the couple drove to their home near McGuffey, they began to fight.
There was conflicting testimony if Hinkle let the mother of his three children out of the car or if he was attempting to push her out of the moving vehicle. But after she left the car, Hinkle “played chicken” with her three times before striking her at a high rate of speed on the fourth pass, the prosecution said.
Hinkle took Parks to their home, where his mother, a registered nurse, took her to a Lima hospital. She was soon transported to OSU Hospital in Columbus.
Parks testified at the trial from her wheelchair that despite telling investigators earlier that Hinkle hit her on purpose, she was now convinced it was an accident.
Barrett listened to both sides before sending Hinkle to prison for more than six years.
In an attempt to secure a new trial for his client, defense attorney Ric Daniel had filed a motion claiming one of the two alternate jurors named Howard had known the victim and had an “improper influence” on the jury.
Barrett dismissed the claim since no one on the jury or serving as an alternate was named “Howard.”
Daniel called Hinkle’s sister, Amy Paul, to testify. She, along with Hinkle’s former Kenton football coach, had written letters of support in his defense. Paul had come to Hardin County from her home in Iowa to encourage Barrett to “see” her younger brother through her eyes.
“This is a guy who loves his family,” she said.
She told Barrett her brother is “madly in love with his fiancée” and made a mistake. In the last six months, Paul told the court, she has seen a big change in her brother.
“He is a man who hit rock bottom and now he is looking for help from God,” she said.
Paul admitted upon cross examination from Assistant Prosecutor Siobhonne Ward that her brother had “dabbled” in thinks he shouldn’t have in the past.
“Would you be alarmed if I told you that your brother was found OD’ed in a parking lot with (his son) in the car?” asked Ward.
“I would be alarmed if anyone did that,” responded Paul.
Ward brought up other instances of questionable conduct by Hinkle before asking Paul if one of her reasons for making the trip to Hardin County was to pick up some money at the Hinkle house and deliver it to their father in Iowa?
There was a long pause as Paul weighed a response.
“Why is that any of your business?” she demanded.
Barrett ordered her to answer the question and Paul said she was taking $2,400 to her father to help pay some of the family bills.
If the defendant was the “devoted daddy” Paul claimed him to be, continued Barrett from the bench, how could she explain the body camera recording of a deputy going to the Hinkle house a few hours after the incident and was welcomed by Hinkle’s four-year-old son.
“He answered the door and appeared to be in charge of the household,” noted the judge.
The deputy found two smaller children sleeping upstairs as he called out loudly for Hinkle, who was “passed out” and naked in an upstairs bedroom, said Barrett. Next to the bed was a gun.
“He was not going to hurt anybody,” responded Paul.
When Hinkle rose to address the court, he said he didn’t agree with the jury’s verdict.
“What happened that night was an accident,” he told Barrett. “I was not under the influence. I was not reckless. I was in control.”
He asked for a minimal sentence so he could be with his children and be with Parks as they celebrate her being able to walk again.
“I am always her biggest supporter,” he said.
But Barrett, in rendering the sentence, said the evidence that Hinkle was intoxicated was undeniable after watching the video from the deputy’s body camera. The video taken with a drone of the crash scene further proved the defendant had been driving in “figure 8s” before he struck his fiancée, said the judge.
Barrett said he rarely takes into account a defendant’s lack of remorse because that factor is so subjective. However, he continued, in this case lack of remorse was “obvious.”
He sent Hinkle to prison for a total of six years and 45 days on the charges, many of which were blended. He also fined the defendant a total of $2,375 and gave him 115 days of credit for time served.