Details emerge in singer Eek-A-Mouse’s plea deal

By on August 4, 2013

eek
Five years after facing felony charges of rape and kidnapping, Ripton Joseph Hylton, the singer known as Eek-A-Mouse, was convicted on two misdemeanors and released to immigration authorities.

On Aug. 16, 2008, an officer from the Kill Devil Hills police department arrested Ripton Joseph Hylton, known on stage as Eek-A-Mouse, at what was then the Colony IV Hotel.

Hylton, a reggae singer, listed his residence as Los Angeles and was here performing at a local nightspot.

According to documents in the Dare County Clerk of Court’s office, Hylton was charged with first -degree kidnapping, second-degree rape and possession of Schedule 2 cocaine.

He was also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession.

The kidnapping charge was the result of an allegation by police and the complaintant that Hylton unlawfully detained the woman in his hotel room.

In July of this year, five years later and after leaving the country, missing two court dates and being extracted from Paraguay with the aid of federal agents, Hylton saw the charges reduced to two misdemeanors and he was released to immigration authorities.

The Voice spoke to a number of individuals closely tied to the case. Although some of sources gave permission to use their names, after long discussions, it was decided printing names, including that of the victim, would serve no useful purpose.

However, the story that follows provides another example of how decisions are made within our court district and leaves many questions unanswered.

According to the court documents, Hylton was placed under a $52,000 secured bond.

Hylton, a citizen of Jamaica, missed his first court date on Dec. 16, 2008, and the Superior Court issued an order “to any officer with authority and jurisdiction to serve an order for arrest” to detain Hylton if found.

In 2010, it was established that Hylton was in Amsterdam, Holland, and the court documents indicate a flurry of activity between the local assistant district attorney, Chrissy Simmons, and U.S. and Dutch officials to extradite Hylton.

At that time, a new court date of April 19, 2010 had been set.

Documents filed by Hylton’s attorney, Phillip Hayes, indicated the suspect was unable to leave Amsterdam due to volcanic ash from an eruption in Iceland. There were numerous news reports at the time about flight bans across Europe due to the volcano.

However, those close to the case said the volcano was not the issue.
Rather, the U.S. State Department had revoked Hylton’s visa and he could not be returned to the United States.

newjustice
Justice in the 1st District
The Voice has received many inquiries about the disposition of cases in the area’s 1st Judicial District. This story is part of a series on cases in the local court system.

Some media reports said Hylton’s visa had been restored by the United States, but our sources said this was not the case and Hylton could not have been returned even if there had been no flight cancellations.

Thus, the defendant missed another court date. Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett issued a warrant for his arrest that was communicated internationally.

We now fast forward to the Thanksgiving holiday in 2012. Hylton had found his way to Paraguay and had gotten into trouble while in the country. As the D.A.’s office had issued an international order to detain Hylton, Paraguayan authorities contacted the United States and told them he was in custody.

According to two sources close to the case, another flurry of activity saw local law enforcement, FBI agents and prosecutors give up their Thanksgiving holiday to secure Hylton’s return to Dare County.

At first, Paraguayan authorities said they were merely going to take Hylton across the border to a neighboring country and leave him there. At that point, local authorities had gone to bed thinking Hylton had once again eluded them.

Then, Paraguay said it would deport Hylton to his native Jamaica and the U.S. could pursue extradition against him there.

But the next morning, Paraguayan authorities contacted U.S. officials and said they would return Hylton to the U.S. if authorities here would pay for the transportation costs.

This news set off more scrambling as the D.A’s office, local law enforcement and others tried to find money to pay for the flight before Paraguay withdrew the offer. At the last minute, the FBI agreed to buy the plane ticket.

Federal agents also were able to obtain over that weekend special papers from the State Department allowing them to bring Hylton back into the United States in spite of his expired visa. Even better for the prosecution, the FBI sent agents to Paraguay to accompany him.

Not only was all of this accomplished over a holiday weekend, the willingness of Paraguay to turn Hylton directly over to U.S. authorities and the FBI’s offer to pay for transportation saved taxpayers thousands of dollars in extradition costs.

On his return, bond was set in Dare County for $75,000 secured for the drug offense and $1 million for the rape and kidnapping charges.

Here, the story takes another twist.

Plea negotiations were conducted, and according to the current prosecutor, the victim had agreed to the terms.

“Eek-A-Mouse” was allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges of assault on a female and an attempted crime against nature.

The defendant had been charged previously with “inflicting corporeal injury on a spouse/cohab” in 1988 and for a “fight in a public place” in 2000.

Those two prior conditions were taken into consideration with the plea arrangement, and Hylton was given the maximum sentence of 120 days, given credit for time already served — 75 days — and turned over to immigration officials for likely deportation.

The sources who spoke with the Voice expressed surprise at the outcome.

Court documents filed by the D.A.’s office indicated the attending physician at The Outer Banks Hospital on Aug. 16 had formed the opinion “that the location and the pattern of injuries” found on the woman “do not suggest that they were inflicted accidentally or through the victim engaging in consensual sex.”

One attorney we spoke to said virtually all rape cases turn into a “he said/she said” scenario, which makes them hard to prove.

The defendant’s attorney challenged the competency of the doctor and said that since the woman had admitted to using drugs with the defendant in his room prior to the alleged rape, this was merely a case of revenge.

But court documents reveal the woman was, at least up until the point of the plea, determined to see the trial through.

She made two trips to Dare County from out of state to testify. One court document seeking transportation and lodging expense for the victim shows that in 2010 she traveled for three days from Arkansas, a 2,136-mile round trip, to appear in court.

A source close to the case also told the Voice the victim was called over the Thanksgiving holiday when it became apparent Hylton could be returned to Dare County and she indicated she was willing to testify again.

This call was made to insure the prosecution did not make the extreme effort to bring Hylton back to the country only to discover the victim had, over the interim, changed her mind about testifying.

Also of interest was the fact that once the plea arrangement was reached, the case was moved from Dare to the Camden County courthouse.

Sources tell the Voice that moving a case to another courthouse is usually done only when a defendant has agreed to a plea and there is concern the defendant might flee or change his mind, making time of the essence. Given the fact Hylton faced no jail time based on his plea, that scenario was considered unlikely, according to our sources.

On July 8, the Voice sent a fax request to District Attorney Frank Parrish asking why the charges had been reduced and how much money had been spent to bring Hylton back to Dare County.

Given the result, the amount of effort, coordination between legal authorities and money spent amounted to nothing more than what Paraguay had said it would do in the first place — deport Hylton to Jamaica or to a bordering nation.

That D.A.’s office did not respond.

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Comments

sandfiddler

August 8, 2013 9:19 am

Ray you are right. This man is the worst as a D.A. he has spent most of his term plea bargaining cases of some of the worst offenders instead of doing his job.

Ray

August 6, 2013 9:57 am

As a DA, I think Parrish is as worthless as a bump on a log and needs to be replaced. As to the majority of judges in this district, I agree with obxlegalhelp.
It’s unfortunate, but true, that so many lawyers who can’t make it (enough money) practicing law always seek judgeships, and are now beginning to seek jobs managing local government.

obxlegalhelp

August 5, 2013 5:51 pm

Who cares the First District, is so “backroom”!!!!!!

The lawyers and some the judges are the problem!!!!

Parrish needs to grow a pair and actually do some real investigating and then train the area’s prosecuting teams!!! And here’s a thought, do a better job of screening and bring in some higher integrity applicants as DA’s!!

I commend the sheriff’s dept. as they take the time and makes requests for the grants to train their teams to better the area’s law enforcement.

Now, what needs to be done is to bring in a white-collar investigator and force the crooks to clean up because if you follow the money, you will see how truly dirty (not above board) the first district’s lawyers and judges, really are.

Correct, I grouped all of you together because you know what goes on and you do not put a stop to it!!!!

It takes a real person to stand up to the nonsense!!!!!

Russ Lay

August 5, 2013 3:31 pm

Jackie-Believe me, we’ve filed those. Under state law, criminal records, police investigations, and files of the DA are subject to a broad interpretation that excludes them from FOIA or Public Records requests. This includes cases that are closed. There are valid reasons for this, but there is a body of opinion that these interpretations are also applied very broadly depending upon whether legal authorities want the media’s help or want to prevent the media from digging further.

For example, we have been refused even mug shots by the General Assembly police force in Raleigh for those from Dare County that were arrested, even though mug shots are routinely distributed by police departments. They claim our request is outside the FOIA or Public Records laws.

Russ Lay

August 5, 2013 12:24 pm

Wolfpacker: Neither Chief Britt nor Judge Tillett have been part of any of these articles on the 1st Judicial District.

Second, this paper ran two full articles on the Tillett situation, including the link to the original complaint-which you will find at the end of this screed.

As to these so-called friendships and associations, I’ve been quiet about this in the past, but no more. Sandy Semans was accused of the same thing by her readers and she felt compelled to write something similar to what I am now going to write.

There were “Masons” on both sides, if you want to characterize it as “sides”, of the Tillett-Britt issue. As to my personal friendships, let’s have full disclosure.

I have never been to Judge Tillet’s house, I don’t even know where he lives. I have never socialized with him, been to dinner or lunch with him, or been to a party he hosted at his house. I see Judge Tillett perhaps six times a year at Shrine meetings, if both of us happen to be at the same one. In truth, my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend many lodge meetings and I have been very remiss at attending Shrine meetings, even though I am the treasurer. I often “mail in” my treasurer’s report. I like the person, and I like the town manager of KDH.

Every single personal interaction I have had with Judge Tillett has been in the context of larger gatherings of people at civic or social events and never one-on-one.

I have run two stories and one editorial on issues in the First District that directly applied to KDHPD-the Rodriguez case and this one. In both instances I have pointed out that the KDHPD did their job, arrested those responsible, (twice in the case of Rodriguez), worked to extradite “Eek” and that things fell apart once it left their hands. In both situations, we have complimented and supported the KDHPD, which would include Chief Britt since he runs the department.

You might be very surprised at how many players involved in this are members of Masonic lodges, including many who sided with the town and the D.A.

If you believe in Masonic conspiracies, or if you think this was a Masonic plot, you don’t know half of what you think. Maybe you’ve read too many Dan Brown novels.

On the other hand, I have been in Rotary for many, many years, since the mid-90′s. I didn’t become a Mason until 2000. As a Rotarian, I was a charter member of a club with 14 others, including the town manager of KDH and the wife of another high-ranking official in that town. I have spent far more time in meetings, planning events, and other interactions with those folks than I ever have spent time with Judge Tillett.

Rotarians have similar obligations as Masons, yet I don’t see anyone calling into question a “Rotary” conspiracy.

In fact, because anonymous folks mailed letters to my house and send emails stating I was violating my “Rotary” obligations to fellow members, I resigned from a club I had not only helped create, but also loved.

I have a very, very small circle of friends and those who know me are well aware of that fact. A sitting judge and Mason and a sitting town manager and a Rotarian are acquaintances, not close friends, of mine. And if you insist on calling them friends of mine, I can assure you that folks, again, on both “sides”, if you want to use that word, have been upset with my reporting. I would go as far as to say I have lost “friends” on both sides, using that term loosely. I like all of the parties involved, so I have no personal vendetta against any of them, nor any strong feelings of needing to protect them or serve their interests where the Voice is concerned.

Many people belong to the same groups in this county, from Rotary to OBAR to OBHBA to, yes, even the Masons. That doesn’t mean we all agree on issues that are beyond the scope of those organization’s membership obligations.

Below are the links to the stories we ran, and you will note, I removed myself from those stories. They cover everything and more that you seem to think we have “covered up.”

We also provided Frank Parish’s attorney, Jim Maxwell, a full front-page story to defend his client’s decision not to remove Chief Britt as well as to address other concerns: http://outerbanksvoice.com/2012/02/24/d-a-says-he-saw-no-legal-reason-to-remove-chief/

And I wrote the story on the dismissal of complaints against Mr. Parrish by Judge Hinton. (http://outerbanksvoice.com/2012/06/28/judge-declines-to-reconsider-complaints-against-d-a/)

On the other hand, if you are happy with the way the justice system works in this district, that is your opinion and you are entitled to it. But unless you are willing to confront me with your real name and sit down and speak with me, I consider your comments to be based on conjecture.

http://outerbanksvoice.com/2013/03/01/judicial-panel-says-tillett-should-face-further-action/

http://outerbanksvoice.com/2013/03/14/state-judicial-standards-panel-reprimands-tillett/

Jackie Harris

August 5, 2013 7:54 am

Now there appears to be more questions about what Really happened and who was being protected?? Now since the case is settled to Parrish satisfaction a FOI should be filed since there is no longer the statement it is an active investigation. The KDHPD did there job,FBI also so what went wrong?? Maybe the initial bond was too low??.

wolfpacker

August 5, 2013 12:43 am

Your vendetta, and your fellow Mason, Reprimanded Judge Jerry Tillett’s vendetta against the District Attorney continues with this the latest chapter of Tillett’s obsessive focus on Frank Parrish. Perhaps if Tillett’s case before the State Judiciary Committee is reopened due to his further misconduct and violation of his plea agreement you will then cover the Judge’s plea agreement. Perhaps you will question why facing a sanction of Censor or Removal from office for his admitted judicial misconduct, he was allowed to plead to a reprimand even though he admitted to the charges against him. The Judge got quite a favorable plea agreement. You failure to cover the Tillett matter speaks volumes about your continuing biased coverage in support of Tillett’s vendetta against Gary Britt and Frank Parrish.

Don’t let him cattle prod you. Stand up to him like Gary Britt and Frank Parrish did. Russ, your reputation and legitimacy as a serious journalist is at stake.

Below is the link to Tillett’s Public Reprimand.

http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/coa/jsc/publicreprimands/jsc12-013A.pdf

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