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Kentucky

Jury acquits men of hate crime charges; convicts on kidnapping, conspiracy

Thursday, October 25, 2012

LONDON, KY — After five hours of deliberations, a jury in Kentucky late Wednesday acquitted two men of hate crime charges, while finding them guilty of kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the attack on a gay man.

Jason Jenkins and Anthony Jenkins, who are cousins, were the first in the nation to face charges under a section of the of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the federal law that makes it illegal to assault another person because of the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation.

Anthony Jenkins (left) and David Jenkins.

The case against the cousins was also test of the law itself, as earlier in the proceedings, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove had turned away a challenge to the constitutionality of the hate crime law.

In his ruling Van Tatenhove however, did note that Congress used the “full breadth” of its regulatory power to come up with a way to justify federal jurisdiction. His ruling allowed the hate-crime charge to proceed.

Legal analysts agreed that the verdict indicated the jury did not find sufficient evidence to convict the Jenkins of attacking Kevin Pennington because Pennington is gay.

Kevin Pennington

The two men however do face sentences of life in prison on the federal kidnapping convictions. Sentencing is scheduled to be set for for February 21.

The incident began when the two men, accompanied by Anthony Jenkins’ 19-year-old wife, Alexis Leann Combs Jenkins of Partridge, and his sister, Mable Ashley Jenkins, 19, took Pennington against his will into Kingdom Come State Park near Cumberland in Harlan County on April 4, 2011, and severely beat him while yelling slurs about his sexual orientation.

The two women had made separate guilty pleas in the case last spring in exchange for more lenient sentences.

Co-prosecutor, Assistant U. S. Attorney Angie Cha told jurors, “They brutally assaulted Kevin because he is, in their words, a … faggot.”

In a brief statement afterwards, Willis Coffey, defense attorney for Anthony Jenkins, said his client wanted to be acquitted on all three charges.

“He’s happy he wasn’t found guilty of a hate crime, and so am I,” Coffey said.

Coffey also said it’s likely the cousins will appeal.

Courtroom observers noted that Pennington appeared disappointed by the verdict, and left without making a statement.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office was also not immediately available after the verdict for comment.

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21 more reader comments:

  1. What a surprise. 12 straight people in Kentucky don’t believe it’s a crime to target gay people for being gay.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:09am
  2. wtf??? didn’t their girlfriends straight up SAY that was why they attacked him???????????????

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:09am
  3. A jury of their TRUE peers?!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:14am
  4. thats fed up but doesn’t surprise me!!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:15am
  5. I wonder what constitutes a hate crime in Kentucky.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:15am
  6. I’m so sick of this country

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:16am
  7. Had this trial occurred in my state, then I think the outcome would not have been so jovial.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:18am
  8. Once again, I want to be shocked.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:20am
  9. Mother Fu***rs… EVERYONE of you!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:21am
  10. How was that not a hate crime? Oh I forgot gays, and trans people aren’t whole people so that form of hatred an discrimination is widely accepted. So it’s fine to attack someone while screaming faggot at them as long as there is no racial or any other slur attached wtf

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:22am
  11. Yep, Misty. I think in most places they just straight up deny homosexuality and transgenderism as applicable in being connected with hate crimes. Isn’t ‘murrica just so FAIR? 8D

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:26am
  12. Clarification… The term M. F.’s was meant for the jury, I apologize for not making that clear i my first post!

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:29am
  13. Yes Ashley, they did, were they girlfriends or wives? This verdict is criminal

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:31am
  14. ^ one was a sister one was a wife. totally forgot at the time of my rage lol

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:51am
  15. Fucking Kentucky.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 11:02am
  16. I’m really doubting we have any humanity left in this country, I hope they find a way, somehow to declare this a mistrial so they can try again….

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 11:05am
  17. Did the jury understand the definition of a hate crime?

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 11:24am
  18. Don’t you all think that if he was African American the “hate” crime verdict would be so different? RIDUCULOUS!!!! Why did the judge allow this to be decided? Kentucky needs an education in Law…..IDIOTS

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 11:31am
  19. I have yet to see someone convicted on Hate crimes against the LGBT community. Even when evidence says they were yelling “anti-gay slurs!”

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 12:00pm
  20. And that will be another thing thrown by the way side if Smittin and sidekick make it into the Oval Office.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 12:11pm
  21. Acquitted of the hate crime? Are you serious? The American judicial system sucks.

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 4:26pm