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Big Stone County man who raped 6-year-old, slashed her throat, then stabbed the girl's mother facing life in prison (August 2009)

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ORTONVILLE -- A Clinton man faces life in prison without parole after being found guilty of four of five charges stemming from an attack on a local woman and her daughter and the sexual assault of the young girl.

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Christopher Hyden, 29, was found guilty Wednesday in Big Stone County by Judge Michael Thompson of the most serious of the charges, first-degree criminal sexual conduct for raping the then-6-year-old girl a year ago in Clinton. The ruling came after closing arguments were presented Monday following five days of witness testimony.

Hyden was acquitted of first-degree attempted murder involving the girl, but was convicted of second-degree attempted murder for slashing her throat after the sexual assault. He was also convicted of first-degree and second-degree attempted murder for the attack on the mother, 27-year-old Dawn Boyle, in her home following the rape.

Boyle had her throat slashed twice and was stabbed in the abdomen at least four times during the attack Aug. 1 of last year.

The case was prosecuted by Big Stone County Attorney Bill Watson and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank. Defense lawyers were Kent Marshall and Tim Johnson.

In his closing argument Monday, Frank said the case included heinous acts involving the rape of the girl, which created the potential for a greater sentence if convicted. Marshall argued against that notion, saying what Frank presented as heinous acts were actually just elements of the crimes themselves. Hyden never denied committing the attacks following his arrest a couple hours afterward or during his trial and made statements indicating his guilt, according to testimony.

Watson said the judge in his ruling did find two heinous elements in the sexual assault of the girl -- intentionally inflicting great bodily harm and exposing her to extreme inhumane conditions. During the trial, Frank said Hyden took the girl to the fairgrounds in Clinton on an ATV, raped her behind a berm at the race track, slit her throat and left her for dead.

Watson said the Minnesota Legislature in recent years passed the statute relating to heinous elements in a crime that can increase the sentence.

"Because of the two heinous elements relating to the criminal sexual conduct, that could mean life without parole," Watson said. "That would be the presumptive sentence."

Watson said the judge also found aggravating factors involving the attacks on both victims.

"We felt the crimes deserved the most serious outcome and that's what the court decided," Watson said. "We're very happy with the outcome."

At times since his arrest, Hyden has claimed he heard voices directing him to make the attacks, but he also made statements indicating he was angered at the time by pending charges against him relating to an alleged sexual assault of a child earlier in 2008.

He was quoted as saying, "You get what you ask for," and "If they want a monster, I'll give them one," preceding the attacks and after his arrest.

Watson said he expects formal sentencing to take place in October. Hyden remains jailed in Willmar.

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