HUTCHINSON — The outcome is still unknown in the preliminary hearing for a 21-year-old Hutchinson man accused of numerous counts in solicitation of six girls, but he could see the charges add up to 18 counts.
Magistrate Judge Randy McEwen stated in court Monday he needed time to go over the evidence against Matthew O’Keefe introduced by the state, so he recessed until 4 p.m. Thursday when he’ll decide if there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.
O’Keefe was already charged with six counts of electronic solicitation, attempted aggravated indecent liberties and aggravated indecent solicitation, but the state filed an amended complaint Monday adding four more counts of aggravated solicitation, three counts of rape and six counts of aggravated indecent liberties, making this a Jessica’s Law case. There are now a total of 18 counts filed against the defendant. Each Jessica’s Law count could see him sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
The solicitation of one of the victims started the investigation when a 13-year-old girl reported to police back on March 22, that he had solicited her for sex on Facebook. They then became involved and Detective Scott Carlton made contact with O’Keefe on the site as a 15-year-old girl and began chatting with him. They decided to meet on April 4, at Rice Park, on the city’s west side. O’Keefe showed up thinking he was going to meet the 15-year-old girl, but met police instead. O’Keefe apparently used the name John Curtis when contacting the six victims.
In one case, he is accused of meeting up with her, kissing, touching and having sex with her, which led to rape and indecent liberties charges. Each of the victims testified of the messaging that took place on the social media site. Detective Scott Carlton also testified to having the conversations with the man who was using the fake name John Curtis. Investigators said O’Keefe did agree to meet what he thought was the 15-year-old girl at Rice Park, but met police instead. Carlton told the court that after O’Keefe was arrested and read his Miranda rights, he told the detective he had two Facebook pages, one using his real name and the other the fake name.
Even though the judge didn’t rule on the evidence, the state did request the bond be increased to $500,000, considering the Jessica’s Law counts. However, the defense argued O’Keefe can’t make bond now, so there was no need to raise it. The judge wasn’t willing to go as high as the state wanted, but he did increase it to $250,000.