DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) – James Hawkins, Sr., didn’t have to go out on the streets to find what he was looking for. Prosecutors say the convicted rapist satisfied his desires by preying upon his own children.
Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee has made sure Hawkins’ “reign of terror” is over, sentencing him to 50 years in jail for child rape. Judge Coffee sentenced the 63-year-old to two consecutive 25-year prison sentenced to be served full.
Age is but a number especially when it comes to committing heinous crimes. Though Hawkins will turn 64 in July the only celebration for his family will be the fact the convicted rapist will be behind bars for probably the rest of his life.
Entering the courtroom wearing a backbrace Hawkins, looked every bit the part of a physical wreck his attorney Leslie Ballin portrayed him to be. But, after being convicted by a jury in April of continuously raping two of his own children for years, Shelby County prosecutors and Judge Coffee agreed at his sentencing hearing on Thursday, the worst illness Hawkins suffered from was a depraved and indifferent mind.
“We would put it in the hundreds of times that this man’s raped his own daughters,” said Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Eric Christensen.
“What Mr. Hawkins has been convicted of, it’s a crime against humanity,” Judge Coffee added. “It’s a crime against morality. It’s a crime against everything that we know is right. That we know is wrong. That we know is just.”
Before handing down the sentence of a collective 50 years in prison with no parole, Judge Coffee reviewed some of the testimony given at trial where testimony from his young victims cast him as the jailer to their sexual prison. They haltingly testified Hawkins would make one of the girls stand guard, while he raped the other or made her watch.
When they tried to tell their mother what was happening, they were allegedly only told “just to stay away from him.”
“It was an incredibly brave thing that our victims did to come to court and tell a room full of strangers all the horrible things that happened to them when they were children, when he should have been protecting them he was abusing them,” said Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Lessie Rainey.
“It didn’t come out in front of the jury that he raped three other daughters and other daughters as well,” Christensen added. “In addition to those three we have charged, that just never came forward.”
Prosecutors claimed Hawkins has fathered 22 children by 11 different women. One of his sons, James Hawkins, Jr.. was convicted in 2011 for the murder and dismemberment of Charlene Gaither the mother of his three children.
Hawkins Jr., is on death row awaiting execution. Judge Coffee said the timing of the crimes in regards to a change in child rape laws by the legislature prevented him from giving Hawkins Sr. even more prison time.
“Mr. Hawkins has earned every second of this sentence to be served consecutively,” Judge Coffee said. “Fifty years in prison is not nearly enough punishment for what Mr. Hawkins did to these children.”
Judge Coffee set a date of July 17 to hear a defense motion made by Ballin for a new trial for Hawkins. Meanwhile Hawkins still faces three more rape trials that are still pending.