A local man will spend 45 years in prison after authorities say he kidnapped a woman from Gastonia in 2011 and sexually assaulted her in an S.C. cemetery.
Authorities say the victim called 911 from her cell phone to try to get help after she was kidnapped, and the entire attack was recorded.
Kenneth Lee Hilton, 50, pleaded guilty Wednesday to kidnapping and second-degree assault to commit criminal sexual contact. Jail records lists Hilton as having lived in Shelby.
Hilton was arrested last January after authorities say DNA evidence linked him to the crime.
Authorities say the victim had gone with Hilton in July of 2011 to cash a benefits check for her father when he instead got on the interstate and drove from Gastonia to Cherokee County.
During the drive, authorities say Hilton refused to let the woman out of the car, and grabbed and punched her. He also made several comments about what he was going to do with her, according to a release from Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette.
At one point, authorities say Hilton left the interstate and drove into a cemetery where he sexually assaulted the victim. He became angry and reached into the vehicles console. Thats when authorities say the victim ran away and fled into the wood.
Sheriffs deputies collected evidence from the scene, including the victim's bra. Last January, investigators learned that DNA from the bra matched Hilton.
Hilton told authorities that he had driven the victim to the cemetery but that nothing had happened between them.
But the Solicitors Office said the 911 call recorded everything leading up to when the victim ran out of the vehicle. The recording was played in court on Wednesday.
Assistant Solicitor Kim Leskanic praised investigators and the quick thinking of the victim by calling 911 for Hiltons conviction.
Justice has been served in this case, Leskanic said in a news release, and Mr. Hilton will never be in (a) position to attack another woman.
Hilton had previously been convicted for second-degree sexual offense and taking indecent liberties with a child.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less