Valdosta Daily Times

State News

June 14, 2013

Hahiran pleads no contest

Teen accused of faking death to escape sex charges

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — A Hahiran whom officials said faked his death to avoid prosecution on sex charges has pleaded no contest in the Florida case.

Nathan Wilkins, 19, entered the plea in Panama City Thursday to charges that he traveled to that city with the intent of meeting an 11-year-old child for sex after seeing an advertisement on Craigslist, the News Herald of Panama City reported Friday. Wilkins was arrested in “Operation Riptide,” during which investigators placed false child sex advertisements on the Internet and arrested those who responded.

Wilkins was out on bond when a fisherman found a supposed suicide note and Wilkins’ clothing on the banks of the Little River in Brooks County. He was found three days later in Colorado. Authorities said he tried to fake his death to avoid prosecution.

Wilkins’ attorney, Al Sauline, argued that his client was so high on hallucinogenic drugs that he did not understand what he was doing when he waved his Miranda rights and gave a statement to Florida prosecutors. Sauline argued that Wilkins’ statement should be suppressed.

Prosecutors said Wilkins’ statements were clear and he did not appear to have drug-related problems when he gave the statement and that he appeared to have a clear memory of the events that led to his arrest.

Wilkins is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 5 and faces up to 20 years in prison for traveling to meet a minor for sex, computer pornography and child exploitation.

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