September trial date for man accused in Upper Keys rape

The trial of a man charged with repeatedly raping and beating a woman who was on her way to a Tavernier restaurant the night of March 13, 2016, is scheduled for September.

John Hayes, 54, is charged with rape, kidnapping, robbery and aggravated battery. He was arrested almost two months after the attack based on DNA evidence. The ruthlessness and randomness of the crime shook the Upper Keys community, so much so that Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay pressed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s crime lab to make finding a DNA match a top priority.

“They came back pretty quickly that they had a DNA hit,” Ramsay said after Hayes’ arrest. “For the victim, it is an eternity. For law enforcement, this was pretty rapid.”

Hayes has a decades-long criminal history, mostly dealing drugs.

“I’ve had dealings with him for 30 years,” Ramsay said when Hayes was arrested. Hayes lived in Marathon at the time of his arrest.

The rape victim, who was 39 at the time of the attack, was walking to Dillon’s Irish Pub and Grille in the Tavernier Towne shopping plaza around 9 p.m. A man emerged from the bushes, dragged her into a wooded area behind the shopping center and raped and beat her. She suffered a broken bone in her face, multiple broken ribs and other injuries to her face, head, neck and back.

According to the Sheriff’s Office report, she lost consciousness at one point. She woke up to the man still raping her. She told detectives that the man said he had raped six other women.

Monroe County Chief Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson said jury selection is scheduled for Sept. 18 at the Plantation Key courthouse.

Given Hayes extensive criminal past, he could spend the rest of his life locked up if a jury convicts him.

On Oct. 5, 2010, Hayes was sentenced to three years in prison for selling drugs. In 1999, he got two years for cocaine sales. In 1994, he got a year for intimidating a witness and selling cocaine. He also was sentenced to prison in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990, all for drug sales.

David Goodhue: 305-440-3204