A judge on Monday will decide whether a Peoria man charged with rape will be able to stand trial in another county.
Kevin Lowe, an attorney representing Monterius Hinkle, said Thursday he believed his client wouldn’t be able to receive a fair trial based on the publicity of his arrest and subsequent appearances in court.
Hinkle, 21, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 26 years in prison in November for raping a 16-year-old girl after he grabbed her and dragged her through an alley, a yard and into his home in the 2800 block of West Malone Street in broad daylight.
While that case is now being appealed, Hinkle faces two other pending rape cases – one of which Lowe said he is attempting to have moved.
Hinkle’s cases also became a political football in last year’s campaign for the office of Peoria County state’s attorney.
Hinkle faces a combined 60 years in prison if convicted in the two cases, which involve alleged assaults in August and June 2007.
A 51-year-old Peoria man who went to Taft Homes to buy marijuana Thursday afternoon ended up being beaten, threatened with a gun and robbed.
The man admitted to police that he went into Taft to buy a small amount of marijuana, then went to a nearby liquor store to buy two 40-ounce bottles of beer. As he walked back through the 600 block of Adams Street about 3:50 p.m., he was approached by three black men.
According to the police report, the men demanded money. The victim said he had none.
At that point, one man punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. Another man pointed a gun at him and again demanded money.
After repeating that he had no money, the man was kicked in the ribs. The assailants went through the man’s clothing and stole $16, a cell phone, two beers and a small bag of marijuana.
The victim walked to the Peoria police station to report the incident but was unable to give much of a description of the suspects.
State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons said Monday that Peoria mayoral candidate General Parker has until Wednesday to withdraw from the race before his office decides how it will proceed.
Lyons said his office could petition a judge to remove Parker’s name from the ballot before the April 7 general election or pursue removal of Parker afterward if the challenger defeats incumbent Mayor Jim Ardis.
In either situation, Lyons said Parker is not eligible to hold public office because he has a felony conviction on his criminal record.
“There is no doubt, Mr. Parker will not hold municipal office with those felony convictions,” Lyons said. “If his objective is to see his name on the ballot, ye-haw to that. But he will not serve office.”
Parker, however, said Monday he is “not quitting,” despite an inability to hold municipal office because he has at least one felony conviction on his record stemming from a 1984 car theft in Peoria.
“I’m not bowing out of the race, and (Lyons’ office) can do what they feel after that,” Parker said. “They can’t make me quit, they can’t make me get off the ballot. I’m not quitting the people. Never have, never will. As long as they want me to continue fighting for them, that is what I’ll do.”
Lyons’ office sent a letter to Parker Thursday demanding he withdraw within one week.
Lyons said he will wait until Thursday before publicly saying how his office will proceed, but he was hoping Parker would have withdrawn by now.
“I gave Mr. Parker a courtesy week to withdraw mainly because most people seek public office, you hope, in a sense of altruism,” Lyons said. “You would like to afford them the opportunity to self-correct an ineligibility or conflict. I don’t think anyone believes Mr. Parker was interested in self-correcting.”
Lyons also said Parker’s plight to get his past crimes pardoned by the governor began at least two years ago, when a request was forwarded to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Parker has previously said he hopes to get a pardon from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office.
“Mr. Parker knew very well that he was ineligible (to run for mayor),” Lyons said.
Resolving Parker’s situation also comes with a tight deadline.
Tom Bride, executive director of the Peoria Election Commission, said the beginning of absentee, in-person voting at his office could begin as soon as Wednesday. Early voting is March 16.
Bride said if Parker or any candidate files a withdrawal request Tuesday, it can go before an electoral board which can accept it. But once any type of voting begins this week, withdrawal requests won’t be accepted.
He said it is not the Election Commission’s job to remove candidates from ballots, even if they are convicted felons.
A judge can do that, Lyons said. But he also understands that by doing so, it can be costly, because ballots have to be redone.
Also Monday, City Council members were relatively mum toward the mayoral race. No one publicly called for Parker to withdraw. Mayor Jim Ardis could not be reached for comment.
At-large City Councilman Gary Sandberg said even if Parker can’t hold office, he isn’t breaking any laws by being on the ballot ,because the system allows it.
“Even if (the Election Commission) had the authority and the right to review a candidate’s credentials, as the law has been described . . . it’s against the law to hold office, not run for office,” Sandberg said. “It’s up to the system to cleanse itself.”
Anyone could have registered a complaint about Parker’s candidacy five days after the election’s filing date, which was Dec. 15. After that point, it could have been reviewed by an electoral board. No one did.