Bond reduced, Hillsborough rape suspect accused of striking again

Kevin McGruder

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The son of a retired Tampa police officer is accused of a crime spree that stretches from Tampa to Texas. The crimes include sexual battery, kidnapping, evading arrest, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and carjacking.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office contends the crimes committed by 21-year-old Kevin McGruder, of Riverview, were preventable, but when a judge lowered McGruder’s $1.75 million dollar bond last August it set the stage for this weekend’s events.

It was Friday. The sheriff’s office got an alert that McGruder had left his home and the GPS tracking monitor strapped to his ankle was off. Deputies say he sexually assaulted a 20-year-old woman in Hillsborough County and took her car to Texas, where he carjacked another vehicle and rammed others.

Defense attorney Lyann Goudie
Defense attorney Lyann Goudie

McGruder sat in the Hillsborough County Jail for months charged with sexual battery, kidnapping,  aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and more. The charges stem from a February 2015 incident where, according to a criminal affidavit, he “went to the victim’s home, threatened to slit her throat,” forced her to have sex and “left the victim tied to a tree” in Okeechobee County.

“Anything with kidnapping, sexual battery, those are significant cases,” Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Colonel Donna Luscynski said.

And so was McGruder’s bond, set at $1.75 million dollars. He sat in jail from March until August. That is when semi-retired judge Roger Padgett heard a motion to reduce the bond. McGruder’s attorney argued for a lower bond for several reasons. She said the case against her client seemed to be coming unraveled.

“It turns out that some of those charges perhaps weren’t as severe as they were and there were potential credibility issues with that victim in that case,” defense attorney Lyann Goudie explained.

Col. Donna Luscynski with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Col. Donna Luscynski with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

 

Goudie pointed to the constitution and reminded that in America we are innocent until proven guilty.

Prosecutors argued against the bond reduction. “He had (showed) a propensity to repeat a particular crime and continued to be aggravated and more serious as he continued along,” Colonel Luscynski added.

Judge Padgett reduced the bond to $30 thousand.  He put McGruder on house arrest with a GPS ankle monitor.

“I don’t know what was in his mind. I think we’re disappointed in it,” Luscynski said.

Then, last Friday, McGruder cut off the monitor and fled. He is facing escaping from custody and damaging electronic monitoring equipment charges.

“There will be additional an additional sexual battery count added to those charges,” Colonel Luscynski said.

McGruder is sitting in Kimble County Jail, which is northwest of San Antonio, about halfway to Pecos. Goudie predicted he will be in Texas for quite awhile, more than likely facing charges there first.

“If I had, had any indication that in any way he was going to pose a threat to anybody, I would have had an ethical obligation to report that. I didn’t have that indication,” she said.

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