UPDATE: Henry Dinkins came into the courtroom shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday for his sentencing hearing.
Emotions ran high inside and outside the courtroom.
Breasia Terrell’s mother wanted answers from Dinkins. Aishia Lankford walked to the witness stand as her journey for justice for her daughter Breasia took another significant step as she spoke directly to the man headed to prison for life for Breasia’s murder.
She had a number of questions for Henry: “Did she want me? Was she scared? …Did you stay and watch my baby die? How long did she suffer?… Do you know any of these answers?”
Her statement came shortly after Dinkins spoke, blaming the system.
“To be honest, I was already found guilty before this case and trial began,” Dinkins said. “I can see it as racial profiling behind my background. I’m saying this because of how everything played out from the beginning up until now. I contemplated how the state used my character to fit their benefits.”
Outside the courthouse, Lankford was still emotional and angry at Dinkins.
“Like I wanted to get up and punch him in the face,” Lankford said. “Because I hear you telling those people one thing you know they were out here on hands and knees looking for my daughter, which you left shattered out there.”
Dinkins was led out of court while his attorney told Local 4 News he plans to file an appeal by the end of the week.
There are two things still to come for Lankford:
She still does not have her daughter’s remains. The state medical examiner held onto Breasia Terrell’s body during the trial.
Lankford will arrange a proper burial once she gets the remains.
She’s also concerned about her son, who is fathered by Dinkins.
In the words of Scott County Attorney Kelly Cunningham, the son completely derailed after his sister’s death and his role as a witness in the case.
Here are live updates of the day in court:
Henry Dinkins, the Davenport man convicted in the kidnapping and murder of 10 year old Breasia Terrell in 2020, learned his sentence Wednesday in Scott County Court.
Judge Henry Latham commended everyone on their conduct during the trial.
Scott County State’s Attorney Kelly Cunningham said the state recommends a sentence of life with no parole. She discussed Dinkins’ record that began in 1989. She went through his record of violations. “Substance abuse is one thing he has had ongoing problems with.” The charges listed include OWI. “It’s very sad. It’s extremely sad,” Cunningham said.
“His youngest son was the brother of Breasia. They’re going to live with the repercussions of that for the rest of their lives,” she told the court. She described D.L., Dinkins’ son and Breasia’s brother, by saying “the child is completely derailed, Your Honor. He is acting out. This child is not healing. He is angry and is fighting the world. He can’t resolve the trauma he has gone through.”
“The state recommends consecutive sentencing,” Cunningham said. “That means he would serve the sentences one after the other.” Breasia’s father is dead, Cunningham said. She said the state asks for restitution to be paid to the Crime Victims Assistance Program. Breasia’s body is still in the custody of the state medical examiner, she said. She also told the court that Dinkins was indigent.
Chad Frese, Dinkins’ attorney, addressed the court. “Mr. Dinkins is going to prison for the rest of his life today,” Frese said. “This should be a concurrent sentence instead of a consecutive sentence.” He asked the court to sentence Dinkins to two life terms, to be served concurrently, or at the same time.
Henry Dinkins read a statement. “What if your issues are with the judge, the prosecutor or the attorney?” he asked. “What happened to the right of freedom of speech? To be honest, I was already found guilty” before the case began, he told the court. “I know I’ve been railroaded.”
“I made the comment ‘Man, they’re never going to find her’ because it had been quite some time,” he said. Dinkins said that almost 75% of the news coverage of the case mentioned his background. He claimed his constitutional rights were violated “from the beginning up till now.”
“Judge Latham, you handpicked my attorney,” Dinkins said. He said the judge was looking for any reason to give this verdict. “My main focus is getting back home. But where is home? God is the ultimate, final judge.”
“There was one person’s statement that was consistent…and that was Aishia’s mom,” Dinkins said. “Where is the justice and the equal liberty in the system?” he asked. He referred to racial profiling.
“My dearest son, you know I love you with all my heart,” he said, referring to his son, D. L., who testified it was his father who killed Breasia. Then he spoke to Lankford. “Aishia, you said you wrote me 15 letters.” He told the court he believes he only received two.
“I have to stay strong. I will overcome this,” he said.
While DInkins read his statement, Lankford got up and left the courtroom briefly, but returned with her statement. Lankford, the mother of Breasia Terrell, took the stand and thanked the court for the opportunity to speak. “You broke my trust and emotions,” she said to Dinkins. “You took my baby girl from me and just gunned her down. Did she want me? Was she scared? What were her last words?”
“Henry Dinkins, closure doesn’t exist in this case,” she said. “I watched my oldest son completely lose his childhood. I couldn’t do nothing to save her. I watched my youngest baby become unrecognizable …. This all feels like a movie.”
“How do you sleep at night?” Lankford continued. “She didn’t deserve that. Whatever you get is not enough. How could you be such a monster?”
Judge Latham noted Dinkins has an adult criminal record dating back to 1989 and said Dinkins needs to be removed from society for the protection of society. “It’s very clear to this court that you have no conscience or remorse,” Latham said.
Latham sentenced him “For the rest of your natural life, without the possibility of parole” for the murder charge, and said the sentence was the same for the kidnapping. He said the sentences will be served consecutively. The court found Dinkins to be indigent and said he has a right to appeal.
“There was nothing untoward in any actions taken by the state,” Cunningham said.
Dinkins was led away from the courtroom by Scott County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Chad Frese, Dinkins attorney, told Local 4 News Dinkins will appeal, and the appeal will be filed by the end of the week.