Paul man convicted of kidnapping, rape can’t get out of jail

September 19, 2018

Melvin Dean Hanks

RUPERT — A Minidoka County District Court judge denied a request to free a Paul man who was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and raping a woman in 1984.

Melvin Dean Hanks, 74, filed a post-conviction relief motion with the court saying his life sentence was only supposed to run for 30 years — and he’d done his time.

Minidoka County District Judge Jonathan Brody disagreed and dismissed the case with prejudice.

Hanks was convicted in 1984 after a five-day trial for first-degree kidnapping, attempted rape, aggravated battery and two counts of crime against nature for anal and oral rape.

Hanks had followed a bar owner’s wife as she left the establishment and flashed his car headlights at her to get her to stop. The woman pulled over thinking it was her husband, according to court records.

Hanks yanked her out of the car and forced her into his car where he held her down and hit her several times, records say. He then drove her to his home, covered her eyes with duct tape and sexually assaulted her.

He was caught by police when he was pulled over for a traffic violation and police questioned a woman in the car who had bloody clothing and appeared beaten.

The issue, Brody wrote in his analysis of the motion was whether Hanks was sentenced to 30 years or fixed life on the kidnapping charge.

The sentences for the other charges ran concurrently with the kidnapping charge and have since expired.

Brody wrote that there was no legal basis to suggest the sentence was for 30 years and court transcripts of the sentencing hearing no longer exist.

Hanks thought a determinate life sentence meant something other than determinate life, he wrote.

“This hope is understandable but unfounded legally and factually,” Brody wrote.

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