For Immediate Release - July 31, 2008

Commonwealth v. Thomas Hendricks

Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe announced today that the Supreme Judicial Court has affirmed the October, 2004 conviction in the Falmouth District Court of Thomas Hendricks, 39, formerly of West Yarmouth, for reckless child endangerment. In its opinion the Supreme Judicial Court adopted the Cape & Islands District Attorney's position that the reckless child endangerment statute, which was enacted in December, 2002, was not confined to situations involving only physical or sexual abuse of children. The Court gave a broad interpretation to the statute, finding that it proscribes all wanton and reckless conduct that creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious bodily injury to a child.

On September 8, 2004, Hendricks failed to stop for the police and led the Mashpee police on a high-speed chase down an unpaved road containing large potholes and sharp curves. At the dead-end of the road, Hendricks drove his car up over a two-foot high berm and traveled down a dirt pathway into the woods. The defendant did not surrender to the police until the police called into the woods to tell him that they had a police dog that would begin to track unless he came out of the woods. It was at that time that the police learned that the defendant, who had left the car in the woods and fled on foot, had his three year-old daughter with him and that she had been present in the car during the high-speed chase.

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