Johns Island kidnapping suspect enters not guilty plea in federal court

VIDEO: Johns Island kidnapping suspect to face federal judge Friday

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The man accused of kidnapping a 4-year-old Johns Island girl entered a not guilty plea on three federal charges Friday morning.

Thomas Evans was indicted earlier this week on three federal charges in the Feb. 13 kidnapping. Those charges are kidnapping involving a person under the age of 18, transportation of a minor to engage in sexual activity and aggravated sexual abuse of a person under the age of 12, according to U.S. Attorney Beth Drake.

Evans's attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf on the three federal charges. The attorney also asked for a jury trial in the case.

Magistrate Bristow Marchant told attorneys to have pre-trial motions filed by April 5.

The indictment alleges Evans "did knowingly and unlawfully seize, confine, kidnap, abduct and carry away [the victim] a person who had not attained the age of 18 years; and did hold [the victim] for ransom, reward and otherwise, and did willfully transport [the victim] in interstate commerce, that is, from the state of South Carolina to the state of Alabama."

Evans was initially charged with a federal complaint.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said Evans randomly targeted the family, attacking the little girl's mom when she returned home with three of her children n Feb. 13. Investigators say Evans kidnapped the 4-year-old after brutally beating and sexually assaulting her mom.

The girl was rescued the following day in Alabama. Evans was arrested that same evening in Mississippi.

Two days before the kidnapping Evans showed up in St. Stephen in his girlfriend's car. The owner of the vehicle, 39-year old Sharon Hayden, could not be located at her Spartanburg County home and hasn't been seen since.

Friday's hearing was Evans's first federal court appearance in Charleston since the indictments were announced.

If convicted on all three federal charges, Evans faces a minimum of 60 years in prison.

Evans also faces seven state charges of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, armed robbery, first-degree burglary and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis.

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