The trial of Henry Dinkins, on trial for the 2020 kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Breasia Terrell, is in its 13th day. He and his family maintain that he is innocent. Dinkins asked for a bench trial, which means the judge makes all the decisions, as compared to a jury trial, in which the jurors make the decisions.
Davenport Police Detective Maureen Hammes with the Special Victims Unit was first on the stand for the prosecution. She told the court that interviewing children is different than interviewing adults. Sometimes, she said, children don’t understand the importance of things. “Some things can be traumatic for children,” she said. It’s not uncommon for people involved in trauma not to tell right away, she testified.
Hammes said that on July 10, 2020, the day Breasia was reported missing, she spoke with D.L. at the apartment and again at 3:48 p.m. the same day. A video of the interview was shown, in which she tells D.L. he can give her important information. “I know this little brain is a good brain. It’s a smart brain,” she told D.L. in the interview. Hammes also spoke with D.L.’s mother Aishia Lankford, who was present for the interview. D.L. said he was playing a game in the same room as Andrea, Dinkins’ girlfriend at the time. He said Dinkins was playing a game with Breasia in another room. Breasia went to bed first, then D.L. went to bed after playing a game a little more. In the video, he testified that he heard Dinkins snore.
D.L. and Breasia slept in the same bed. “She (Breasia) kicked me and then I looked up and she was gone,” he said. In the video, Hammes said to D.L., “when you peeked and you saw them leave…” “The sun was out,” D.L. finished. When Dinkins came back, “He was acting silly,” D.L. said. “He was yelling about his juice missing. He said ‘Who stole my juice?'”
D.L. said that Dinkins went fishing with six people. “He told me there were six people down there.” Dinkins had a knife and washed the knife off with some bleach and a rag. “He got stuck,” D.L. told Hammes. During the interview, Aishia Lankford said to D.L., “you know what telling the truth is, right?” D.L. also said that Dinkins paid $100 for a fishing pole and put it in his trunk. Hammes testified that initially D.L. said when he saw Breasia leave the bedroom, it was nighttime. He said the knife and the bleach came from his dad’s trunk and that he could smell it, Hammes told the court.
Hammes testified that she drove D.L. and his mother by the river. Detective Obert drove with D.L. in the front seat and Hammes and Lankford were in the back seat. She testified that D.L. said he remembered Schmidt Road. They went to Credit Island and D.L. identified footprints in a muddy area. Hammes told the court that D.L. said they were his dad’s footprints.
Hammes interviewed D.L. on July 23, 2020 at the Davenport Police Station. She told the court that D.L. was different this time – “guarded. He told me he was tired of talking to people.” She said he cried. “I believe he was frustrated,” she said.
During the police station interview, D.L. sounds distracted, straying from the topics at hand. “You know you’re safe from your daddy, right? You know that your mom loves you. You know everyone just wants to find Breasia,” Hammes testified. D.L. talked about visiting Dinkins’ friend somewhere with Breasia. He said a couple of people were in the house. Afterwards, they went to the apartment Dinkins shared with Andrea. Dinkins was in a room with Breasia and the door was open. Dinkins was watching Breasia play a video game.
“You’re confusing me,” D.L. told Hammes. He said he saw Dinkins and Breasia leave before Andrea woke up. “I’m tired of people asking me questions,” he said. “Can you tell me what your dad didn’t want you to say?” Hammes asked him. “NOTHING!” D.L. said.
“Why are you getting mad at me?” she asked. “Every time, I forget stuff,” D.L. told her. “I’ve seen you places with your dad. There’s cameras all over the place,” Hammes told him.
D.L. said Dinkins got stuck. “It was on a road.” D.L. mentioned two fishing stops and said Dinkins had a knife that he wiped off. He said Dinkins took him to Red’s. “What haven’t you told me?” Hammes asked D.L. She said they would go on another drive. “No! I don’t wanna go on no drive! Just leave me alone,” D.L. said. “Stop staring at me.”
“You are the one who can help me find your sister,” Hammes said in the video. D.L. raised his voice. “I don’t know anything else!” He breathed heavily and began to cry. “Do you need a hug, bud?” “NO!” he cried. D.L. sobbed.
After a break, Hammes continued her testimony. She said she knew there was a video of Henry Dinkins with D.L. at the trailer that morning, She also knew Dinkins had been to Walmart but D.L. had not talked about it. “We took him on another drive to see if it could jog his memory,” Hammes told the court. D.L. talked about a dirt road where his dad got stuck.
Hammes testified that when they got to Walmart in Clinton, D.L. remembered being there. He said he waited in the car. The battery was out of his dad’s phone. D.L. said he put the battery back in and played video games while his dad was in the store.
Dinkins’ attorney Chad Frese cross examined Hammes, who told him, “I didn’t feel I was leading D.L. in that interview.” She testified that she did not smell any bleach in the apartment. She also told the court that D.L. never told her he saw his father shoot Breasia or that he saw Dinkins pour bleach in an area. In the second interview with Hammes, D.L. called his dad a bum and said that he was in jail. “He said his dad lost his sister and that’s what he believes,” Hammes told Frese. “I think kids don’t remember everything at the time we want them to remember,” she testified. During the drive, D.L. “kept asking when he could go home,” Hammes testified.
In redirect from the prosecution, Hammes said she didn’t specify if D.L. had been to Walmart. “I wanted him to give me that information,” she said.
The state rested after Hammes’ testimony. The state maintains that Dinkins wanted to sexually assault Breasia, said Scott County Prosecutor Kelly Cunningham. She noted that both of Aishia’s other children wanted to go when Dinkins came to pick up D.L. but Dinkins said only Breasia could come because there wasn’t enough room in the car. She also mentioned that Dinkins spent a lot of time with Breasia in the bedroom playing video games instead of spending time with his son.
Breasia was the first to go to bed. “At some point in the night, that child was kicked very, very hard,” Cunningham said, referring to Breasia kicking her brother while he slept. Cunningham told the court that D.L. saw his father walking down the stairs with Breasia. D.L. testified that Dinkins was talking about cars.
Andrea noticed Dinkins and Breasia were gone when she got up to go to the bathroom. “Mr. Dinkins is not the biological parent of Breasia,” Cunningham told the court. There is no logical explanation why an adult non-father would take Breasia out of the apartment, she said.
Andrea Culberson, DInkins’ girlfriend at the time, testified about Dinkins returning to the apartment and the state’s assertion he went to a closet and got a gun. Culberson testified she saw Breasia standing at the side of the maroon Impala. Then “car’s gone, he’s gone and Breasia’s gone,” Cunningham said. A bottle of cleaning solution was sitting on a box right by the bed in the RV, she told the court.
“We know that vehicle went back to the RV,” Cunningham said. She told the court there is no reason Dinkins would take Breasia to the RV, where the state asserts he sexually assaulted her. “She was a truth teller,” Aishia Lankford, Breasia’s mother testified earlier when asked what her daughter was like.
Cunningham said Dinkins had to murder Breasia so nobody would know he sexually abused her. She referred to his purchase of gas and how he kept glancing at the car, as well as Jerod Brink’s testimony that he pulled Dinkins’ car out near the area of Kunau Implement, near where Breasia’s remains were found.
“When Mr. Dinkins went back and picked up his son, he went to Clinton, and that speaks volumes,” Cunningham said. She told the court Dinkins bought the bleach to destroy any evidence that linked him to the crime.
Dinkins will not testify, Frese said. “No one can force you to testify,” Judge Henry Latham said. Latham denied a motion for acquittal. Closing arguments will be given Tuesday morning.
The defense rested. Closing arguments will be heard Tuesday.
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