A Tacoma man accused of first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation in the abduction of an 8-year-old Federal Way girl was ordered today to undergo a mental-health evaluation at Western State Hospital.
Benjamin H. Trinh, 28, was flanked by two jail guards at his side before King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle granted prosecutors' request for the evaluation. Doyle's order sending Trinh to Western State in Steilacoom postponed when Trinh will enter a plea, originally scheduled for today.
Trinh told police he kidnapped the girl from the Olympic View Elementary playground in Federal Way after school April 11, court documents state. They ate, shopped and swam together at a University Place pool; then he raped her at his South Tacoma residence, according to the Federal Way police probable cause statement.
Dressed in red jail clothing, Trinh stood with his head bowed during a brief hearing at King County Courthouse in Seattle.
Family members of Trinh told investigators that Trinh has mental-health issues, charging papers state. A prior allegation against Trinh of driving-under-the-influence was handled in King County Mental Health Court. Prosecutors requested Trinh be ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation prior to any reduction in bail, according to the charging documents.
Trinh is not a registered sex offender. He has a 2004 felony conviction for second-degree theft.
The girl's disappearance with a man children at the playground knew as "Ben" sparked a nationwide Amber Alert.
Trinh told police he started talking with the girl at the playground about two weeks prior to kidnapping her.
King County prosecutors charged Trinh April 15, and said the investigation is continuing.
An Amber Alert was issued during the evening of April 11 for the girl after she was reported missing from the playground around 7:10 p.m.
A witness told police a man was talking with the girl and several other children prior to her walking with the man away from the school at 2626 S.W. 327th St.
The Amber Alert was canceled after the girl walked home around 10:30 p.m. April 11.
Trinh was arrested April 12 after a clerk at the Target store in Federal Way saw a picture of the girl and read the description of the suspect from a TV news alert link sent via text message to her cellphone, police said.
The employee recognized the girl in the Amber Alert as having been in the store with the suspect April 11. Police were contacted that night.
Trinh and the girl were recorded together on store security video. He was identified by a purchase he made with a credit card at the store.
Police three hours and 22 minutes elapsed from the time Trinh walked into Target with the girl until he dropped her off near her house and she walked home.
Police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said Friday police are not aware of any other victims of Trinh. Police believe videos found in Trinh's house of young girls performing sex acts are commercial pornography, Schrock said.
If convicted as charged, Trinh could be sentenced from four years nine months to six years three months in prison.