The fate of a man accused in the death of a 10-year-old girl is now in the hands of a judge.
The trial of Henry Dinkins, on trial for the 2020 kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Breasia Terrell, was in its 14th day and final day on Tuesday, with Judge Henry Latham presiding.
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.
Closing arguments were given all morning until shortly before 12:30 p.m. Scott County Attorney Kelly Cunningham discussed the family dynamics, the relationship between Breasia’s mother and Dinkins and then the events of the night before the day she was reported missing on June 10, 2020.
Cunningham described Breasia as a heavy sleeper: “Once she went down, that child went down.” Cunningham said Breasia was a rule follower and that she would not get up in an apartment complex she wasn’t familiar with and just wander off. Her grandmother described Breasia as a tattletale, Cunningham told the court.
Cunningham told the court about the night before Breasia disappeared and how Dinkins gave Breasia and her brother D.L. white t-shirts to wear to bed. “Why would you want to put a 4XL t-shirt on a 10 year old child?” she asked.
Andrea Culberson, Dinkins’ girlfriend at the time, got up to go to the bathroom and saw that Dinkins and Breasia were gone the night the children stayed over with her and Dinkins, Cunningham said. “We know Breasia is still alive at 3:30,” she said. She continued to track Dinkins’ movements based on surveillance video and testimony.
Cunningham told the court Dinkins “knew exactly what he needed to do to destroy the evidence.” She said the conclusions are clear – that Dinkins took Breasia, sexually assaulted her and killed her.
Chad Frese, Dinkins’ attorney referred to the “fairy tale (the state has) spun.” He told Judge Henry Latham, “I’m going to submit to you that this case is being thrown in your lap because the prosecution doesn’t trust you. “
“The standard is did the state prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “There’s not one piece of physical evidence that can say Henry Dinkins touched this girl.” No one put Breasia inside that Impala, Frese told the court. “It was the assumption that she was in that Impala.”
Frese said an FBI crime team “spent hours combing the RV.”
“From jump, this case was thought to be Henry Dinkins raped this little girl. They didn’t’ test for DNA. They had no blood, they had no semen and they had no trace evidence.” Frese said the machete located was brand new. He also referred to a baseball bat that was part of the evidence. “What does a baseball bat have to do with anything? It’s a prejudicial piece of evidence that makes Henry look scary.”
Frese told the court that Breasia’s death “was an execution. It was a terrible death. Think about the person who pulled the trigger. One…two…three times on a 10 year old child. It takes a special kind of person to do that. It’s not him,” he said, referring to Dinkins.
“They want to call it circumstantial” but it’s speculation, Frese said. He referred to D.L.’s testimony and said “you can’t pick and choose those parts of the story that are consistent. He was wholly inconsistent on major facts. He testified he saw his father shoot Breasia. We know that’s not true. He also said Breasia was alive – twice- at 5:30 a.m.”
Frese mentioned Breasia’s clothing and the idea that Dinkins gave her a white t-shirt to cover up evidence. “If he was trying to cover up a crime, why would he let her wear the shorts and a bra?”
“Reasonable doubt is all over this case,” Frese said. “There’s only one verdict here. You have to find Mr. Dinkins not guilty.”
Assistant Prosecutor Liz O’Donnell said Dinkins returned quietly to the apartment after he and Breasia left in the middle of the night.
“He was trying to avoid having to alert anyone to the fact that Breasia was missing,” she said. “She could identify him. A decision was made that he had to kill her,” she said. “The evidence clearly shows that he is guilty on both of these offenses beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Latham said he will take the matter under advisement and return with a verdict as soon as he can. The judge has up to 60 days to make a ruling.