The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 9, 2014

Long prison sentence follows Kendricks' plea

Thomas Kendricks admitted to crimes

MANKATO — What is usually procedural court hearing ended Friday morning with a Mankato man being sent to prison for at least 13 years after pleading guilty to two robberies and a charge of statutory rape.

Thomas Kendricks III, 24, had been scheduled to appear for an omnibus hearing. Instead, he admitted to robbing a convenience store in LeHillier on Jan. 13, stealing a car at gunpoint from a woman near the Minnesota State University campus Jan. 14 and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl who was with him when police found him in an apartment in Minnesota Lake on Feb. 7.

Kendricks had eluded arrest for more than three weeks after he robbed the LeHillier Quick Mart and the woman's car, allegedly with the help of 17-year-old Jamie Cornnillus Hawthorne of North Mankato. Hawthorne is to go to trial in juvenile court for both robberies May 28.

After Kendricks stole the car, it was found by police in Austin later in the day on Jan. 14. Hawthorne was arrested after a standoff with police at a house where Kendricks' relatives live. Kendricks had been at the house but escaped.

Evidence found by investigators, including a conversation on an Internet social network and a book with baby names, suggested Kendricks knew he had gotten the girl pregnant. She had been missing from her home for more than a week before she was found with Kendricks. Investigators later confirmed the girl was pregnant and a DNA test showed Kendricks was the father. A 14-year-old can't legally have consensual sex with an adult.

Kendricks was sentenced to two consecutive 58-month prison sentences for the robberies. He also was sentenced to another consecutive 124 months for the sexual assault. The 20-year sentence could be reduced by a third with good behavior.

Pat McDermott, assistant Blue Earth county attorney, said he had requested Kendricks receive a longer sentence if the case had gone to trial.

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