A Salem man will serve 75 years in prison after his jury sentence for child sodomy was affirmed during a Tuesday hearing.
Eric Hines, 38, was previously found guilty of one count of first-degree statutory sodomy involving a minor child under the age of 14. He was sentenced to 75 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections by a jury earlier this year. That sentence was upheld Tuesday by Judge Michael Randazzo, who presided over the final sentencing hearing. The state was represented in the case by Prosecutor Andrew M. Curley and Assistant Prosecutor James Weber. Hines was represented by attorney David Simpson.
A press release from the Dent County Prosecutor’s Office states the sodomy charge was filed because of a disclosure by the victim to a family placement provider. As a result of the disclosure, an investigation was conducted by the Salem Police Department that occurred from 2019 to 2020. The investigation spanned from Missouri to Florida and culminated with a probable cause statement submitted by Salem Police Department Lt. Jonathan Counts to the Dent County Prosecutor’s Office on July 22, 2020. The charges were filed by Prosecutor Curley on the same day and Hines remained incarcerated from the time of arrest through his trial. Based on the age of the victim, the range of punishment authorized for the offense is a term of not less than 10 years or life in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
The jury trial convened April 6 this year and continued to April 9. During the trial, the state presented evidence regarding the law enforcement investigation, child advocacy center forensic interviews, and elicited testimony from the victim and the adoptive mother of the victim concerning the disclosure. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found Hines guilty. He elected for jury sentencing and received 75 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. The case was then set for a final sentencing hearing on June 22 after the completion of a Sentencing Assessment Report prepared by the Missouri Department of Corrections. At the final sentencing hearing, Prosecutor Curley recommended incarceration in prison for a term of 75 years as recommended by the jury. Hines argued for leniency and continued to deny that he committed the offense. At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Judge Randazzo sentenced Hines to 75 years.
In a statement released from the Prosecutor’s Office, Prosecutor Curley indicated the victim and family were pleased with the result and glad the trial process had concluded. Further, Prosecutor Curley applauded the Salem Police Department, the Dent County Victim Advocate Cynthia Nash, the victim, and her family. In addition, the Dent County Sheriff’s Department provision of courtroom security was appreciated throughout the trial. Prosecutor Curley noted the Salem Police Department went the extra mile in this investigation by traveling to Florida to locate and interview Hines concerning the crime.
“Today was a good day and I continue to consider it a privilege to work alongside these heroes,” Curley said. “Due to the nature of child molestation, these trials are emotional and tolling on everyone involved. This child was very young at the time of the incident, during pre-trial proceedings and at trial. I am very proud of the child and her new family for persisting through a rigorous judicial process. Our children should never be the victims of this type of conduct or any other abuse. If you or someone you know is a victim of child abuse, please tell a parent, school counselor or a law enforcement officer. We are here to help.”