(Editor’s note: This article contains graphic photos to represent the seriousness of the victim’s claims. The photos have been blurred for sensitive readers — un-blurred versions can be viewed by clicking or tapping on the photos.)
WILMINGTON — A Wilmington woman is concerned her former boyfriend, a special operations Marine, will get a plea bargain after he allegedly punched her repeatedly, inflicting serious injury.
Wilmington resident Kimberly Rhine alleges she was assaulted by her then-boyfriend, Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans, on July 29, 2018. According to the Wilmington Police Department (WPD), Evans was arrested and charged with violent assault causing serious injury.
Alleged violent assault
Rhine said the two returned home after drinking in downtown Wilmington, then they had an argument. That’s when Rhine said Evans, who is six-foot-three and 230 pounds, punched her repeatedly, including one blow that lifted her off her feet.
According to the reporting officer’s narrative, an Uber drive called 911 after he saw Rhine bloodied. When the officer arrived, Evans was leaving the residence.
“When I walked in the house, I saw Rhine sitting in a chair, she had blood all over her face, stemming mostly from her left eye area. She had blood running down her mouth, neck, chest and her shirt had large blood stains on it. She had blood smears on her arms and legs. She was sobbing and shaking. She had a glass of water that she tried to take a drink out of, but her hand was shaking so hard she had to put it back down,” according to the officer’s report.
According to Rhine and the officer’s narrative, police needed to take photographs of her injuries before she could clean the blood off her face. That’s when a friend, who had arrived on the scene, took the picture of Rhine’s face — a photo that she has since used online to help spread awareness of her situation.
But at the time, Rhine said she just wanted to wash up.
“I just wanted the blood off of my face,” Rhine said. “It was all down my face, on my chest, on my arms and legs.”
According to WPD spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron, Evans was did not resist arrest but was not cooperative. The arresting officer noted, “I read Evans his Miranda rights but he chose to remain silent and did not want to write a witness statement. He did ask me more than once what he had been arrested for and when told stated to me that he had no recollection of that happening.”
A slow recovery
Rhine was taken to the hospital to receive stitches on a laceration over her right eye, and was treated for a possible concussion.
Rhine said she continued to deal with the medical aftermath of the assault. According to medical records provided by Rhine, over a month later, in September, she was still experiencing blurry and impaired vision in her left eye. Rhine also said that she does modeling work, as was worried that the disfiguration from the injury sustained in the assault could affect her work. Rhine said she is still dealing with the effects of her injuries.
Rhine was also Concerned for her well-being, Rhine took out a protective order against Evans; the Marines also issued a military protective order and reassigned Evans, according to Major Nick Mannweiler, spokesman for MARSOC.
Now, six months after the assault, Rhine fears that Evans will receive a plea bargain before his court date in early March. According to Rhine, the case has been continued several times, and the assistant district attorney working the case informed her that Evans would likely file what’s known as an Alford plea — a seemingly paradoxical legal maneuver that allows defendants to benefit from sentence reductions similar to those who plead guilty, but without legally admitting guilt.
These benefits can include probation instead of jail time, and in some cases continuance and dismissal of the case.
Sentence reduction without admitting guilt
Allowed under a 1970 Supreme Court ruling – originating from a 1963 murder case in North Carolina – Alford pleas are used in cases where the defendant acknowledges that sufficient evidence exists that any judge or jury hearing the case would likely find that defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; however, the plea allows the defendant to declare their innocence for their record. Alford pleas are allowed in most states (Indiana, Michigan, and New Jersey have banned them).
Alford pleas are banned in all courts of the United States Military.
District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Samantha Dooies said the office could not comment on current criminal cases, but noted that “An Alford Plea does not require the State’s consent, therefore we cannot prevent the entry of an Alford Plea by a defendant.”
Dooies did say that the case “could be resolved sooner than that.”
‘The system needs fixing’
Rhine said she hoped her day in court would help pay for her medical bills and supervision probation, and an admittance of guilt. She also said she hoped the court would order mandatory therapy for Evans.
Now she’s concerned none of that will happen. She also said she was concerned about her safety, in part because Evans’ military protective order is only in effect until the case is resolved.
“I am for sure saddened with the system and how long this has been taking, but I do understand the system ‘needs fixing,’” Rhine said. “At the end of the day, my serious, long-term partner who I really believed in stole not only my trust but my ability to feel safe in certain situations. It affected my work, interactions with people, and just my overall sense of comfort in many situations that I once used to thrive in.”
Rhine said that she hopes some good can come out of her situation, in that the way domestic violence cases, and in particular Alford pleas, are handled will get more scrutiny.
It is not currently clear if Evans will face disciplinary action from the military, as the case has not yet been resolved.
“This case is currently being handled as a civilian criminal justice matter which the command is following closely in order to be able to take future command actions following the outcome of his civilian case,” Mannweiler said. “MARSOC takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, cooperates fully with investigative authorities and takes corrective action on behavior that does not conform to [Department of Defense] standards,” Mannweiler said.
Evans did respond to a request for comment, but said he did not wish to make a statement.
Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at email@example.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.