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Defendent Not Present At Trial, Verdict Returned In 8 Minutes

WILKES-BARRE — It took a jury at the Luzerne County Courthouse Tuesday less than ten minutes to convict a man on child sex charges.

But the defendant, 30 year-old Clyde Tonkin, wasn’t there to hear the verdict. Police say he escaped house arrest yesterday.

A jury didn`t need Tonkin present at his trial at the Luzerne County Courthouse to find him guilty on all seven counts of child sex charges.

Tonkin was arrested last June after he was caught with a 14-year old girl he had taken to Ohio.

He had been having sex with the girl and she was pregnant with his child.

Jodi Miller is the victim`s mother.

“I am so relieved it`s over for my daughter and for my family,” said Miller. “It has been really emotional, pretty much a rocky hell.”

Tonkin’s trial began Monday, however authorities say he escaped house arrest by cutting off an electronic monitoring device.

On day two of his trial, Tonkin was still at large while his jury returned a guilty verdict in roughly 8 minutes.

“Job well done, we went into court and presented our case and as you can see in 8 minutes or less, the evidence was just overwhelming,” said Sergeant Leonard Galli with the Exeter Police Department.

Miller says she`s known Tonkin for years after he married her cousin.

The victim herself testified in court, telling the jury Tonkin was a father figure to her.

“I trusted him, I will regret that until the day I die but I thought I knew him, he has been in my house, he`s been around my family,” said Miller.

Now Tonkin has been convicted and the search for him is on.

Courtney Smith is Tonkin`s bail bond`s officer and says he owes her six $1,000 bonds.

She wants her money.

“We`ll do everything we can to have the defendant picked back up and we are working closely with many law enforcement agencies,” said Smith of Smith Bail Bonds.

Tonkin also facing charges for other offenses in Luzerne County.

Investigators say he will probably face new charges for escaping house arrest once he is caught.



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