COLLIER COUNTY, FL – A Collier County man accused of a sickening crime is free tonight.
Deputies arrested 40-year-old Robert Hinote in 2010 after they found disturbing child porn images on his computer in East Naples. But in court Friday, the state announced it will not charge Hinote for the crime.
The hearing only lasted a few minutes. The prosecutor told the judge they did not have enough evidence to move forward with the case — meaning Hinote will walk away from these charges. Close to 200 child porn charges were dropped.
Hinote was not in the courtroom, but his attorney gave us a statement.
“It means a big sigh of relief. It means Mr. Hinote can start putting his life together again, and get on with his life,” said defense attorney Marquin Rinard.
In 2010, investigators found hundreds of child porn videos and pictures inside Hinote’s home. The videos and photos showed children as young as four years old having sex.
But the defense argued investigators searched Hinote’s home without a warrant. Therefore, a judge ruled the evidence could not be used in court.
“It’s always surprising when we lose a motion to suppress. But we respect the appellate court, and we will move forward,” said assistant State Attorney Deborah Cunningham.
We went back to Leawood Circle where deputies arrested Hinote in 2010. A neighbor told us he was there when the arrest happened, and lived across the street from Hinote.
“He was a good guy. He played with my kids. He was outside all the time playing — nothing wrong,” said neighbor Luis Velez.
A new family now lives in that home. Neighbors say Hinote moved to Miami a few year ago. Now that he’s off the hook, they say all they can do is hope he’s learned his lesson.
Maybe he got conscience of what he did, and maybe now he will do something different,” said Velez.
Investigators say Hinote was sharing Internet with a neighbor when they linked them to the child porn four years ago. They investigated him for a month before making the arrest. Authorities thought they had a major child porn suspect off the streets.
Posted: Nov 21, 2014
Prosecutors plan to drop charges against confessed child porn hoarder
NAPLES, Fla. – On Robert Hinote’s computer, detectives found hundreds of child pornography files.
When they talked to Hinote, he confessed to hoarding the images and videos of children as young as 4 engaged in sex acts.
If a jury convicted him on all 275 child porn possession charges, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of about 70 years in prison.
Yet in the coming days, possibly as soon as a Friday court hearing, Hinote, 41, formerly of East Naples, will be cleared, with all charges against him dropped.
Prosecutors said this week they’re planning to dismiss the case against Hinote, the result of Collier sheriff’s deputies illegally entering his home in 2010. Investigators said they had a strong case against Hinote, who has since moved to South Florida, but his prosecution fell apart when a judge tossed all the computer evidence because deputies failed to obtain a proper search warrant.
“There are certain guidelines set out in the laws and Constitution to protect the rights of citizens, and right to be secure in their house and property is one of the most sacred rights we have,” Hinote’s lawyer, Marquin Rinard, said this week.
The decision to throw out the evidence hinged on a unique set of circumstances.
In March 2010, deputies identified an Internet Protocol address used by Hinote’s neighbor as trafficking in child pornography. Deputies obtained a search warrant for the neighbor’s house, finding a wireless router that the neighbor said Hinote had installed and they shared.
When deputies discovered no child pornography at the neighbor’s home, their attention turned to Hinote. Two deputies, Sgt. Ken Becker and Detective Scott Rapisarda, knocked on Hinote’s front door and spoke with him on a front porch.
Deputies offered Hinote two options as they got a new search warrant: He could leave the house as it’s locked up, or he could go back into his home and a deputy would follow him in. Hinote, who’d been smoking marijuana with a female friend, let the deputies in, saying he had nothing to hide.
The deputies did not, however, tell Hinote he could tell them to go away until they had a new search warrant. Their concern, Rapisarda later said at a deposition, was they wanted to ensure “that there’s no evidence that’s going to be destroyed.”
Although Hinote invited the deputies in, he testified at a September 2013 hearing that he felt he had no other choice.
“They explained to me that they were going to come into my house had I said ‘yes,’ `no,’ maybe,’ any which way,” Hinote testified.
Prosecutors argued Hinote legally consented to the search.
Maresca, the assistant state attorney, noted Hinote asked, “Don’t you guys need a warrant?” when Becker and Rapisarda spoke with him on the front porch, an acknowledgement that he knew his rights. Hinote wasn’t pressured by deputies, Maresca said, and volunteered to cooperate throughout the search.
“The police were very professional to the defendant,” Maresca argued in September 2013. “They weren’t threatening him in any way.”
Ultimately, Shenko sided with Hinote, finding their lack of search warrant and front porch conversation constituted an illegal search.
Prosecutors appealed Shenko’s ruling to the Second District Court of Appeals, which affirmed Shenko’s decision without comment in early October.
Asked about the prospect of a confessed child pornography downloader avoiding prosecution, Maresca said “my personal opinion is not relevant.”
“We litigated the issue, we appealed the issue, the Second DCA ruled, and that’s why we have appellate courts for,” Maresca said.
Speaking in generalities, and not specifically about Hinote, Rinard said violations of state and federal laws by well-intended police occasionally lead to guilty defendants being set free.
“For the freedom we enjoy as Americans, that’s part of the price we pay,” Rinard said. “I’m not saying that applies in this case, though.”
Posted: Nov 6, 2014
Source: Naples Daily News
Naples man with child porn charges could be off the hook
COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- A big blow for law enforcement. WINK News confirms a major child porn case in Collier County could be thrown out.
Attorneys for 40-year-old Robert Hinote say they expect hundreds of charges to be dropped against their client.
They say Collier County Deputies illegally searched his home back in 2010. Hinote’s attorneys say an appeals court agreed with a local judge to throw out all the evidence taken from Hinote’s home.
The State Attorney’s Office can’t confirm to WINK News if and when they may drop the charges. The Collier County Sheriff’s office did not want to comment on this case.
Deputies say they initially searched a home in 2010 where they thought child porn files were being shared online, but they didn’t find anything.
Deputies say they were then led next door to Hinote’s home. Deputies say he gave them permission to search his computer.
But WINK News has obtained brand new documents that show a judge granted a motion to suppress all the evidence taken from Hinote’s house, including the graphic images on his computer.
Hinote’s attorney, John Musca, claims deputies did not have a search warrant for the defendant’s home.
The State Attorney’s Office appealed the judges ruling, but WINK News just learned, the 2nd district court of appeals upheld that decision, meaning the evidence cannot be used.
Posted: Nov 6, 2014