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Jury in Kentucky begins deliberations in federal hate crime case

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

LONDON, Ky. — Jurors began deliberations Wednesday in the case of two men charged in a federal hate crimes case Wednesday.

Jason Jenkins and Anthony Jenkins, who are first cousins, are on trial in U.S. District Court in London, Ky., on charges that they assaulted Kevin Pennington because Pennington is openly gay. The two are charged with conspiracy, kidnapping Pennington, and injuring him because of his sexual orientation.

Anthony Jenkins (left) and David Jenkins.

The trial is the first in the nation under a section of the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act law that makes it illegal to attack someone based on the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation.

Both men face prison sentences of up to life in prison if convicted.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins, during his closing argument, reminded jurors that several witnesses, including Anthony Jenkins’ sister, Ashley, and his wife, Alexis, has testified that the victim had been targeted specifically due to his sexual orientation.

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

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 the victim 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.

During his testimony, Pennington said he was able to escape during a lull in the attack, when the two men stopped beating him in order to look for a tire iron with which to kill him.

He told the court that he had hid in the woods until the four stopped looking for him. Pennington suffered numerous injuries, including bruises over much of his body, a torn ligament in his shoulder, a closed-head injury and a torn ear.

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

The prosecutors did acknowledge that Pennington had first concealed the reason he went with the Jenkins family members — which was to buy drugs — in his initial statements to the FBI, but his account of the crime had been consistent afterwards.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove gave the jurors their instructions late Wednesday afternoon after prosecution and defense attorneys finished their closing arguments.

Deliberations by the jury towards reaching a verdict will continue Thursday.

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7 more reader comments:

  1. Hang them! Set an example.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 8:31pm
  2. The guy with glasses looks gay to me……. Hmmm

    Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 8:33pm
  3. Homophobic guilt is going to eat them up in prison when Bubba comes a callin!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 8:45pm
  4. As an Outreach Director with Kentucky Equality Federation, I am pleased to see these two men being tried in a court of law. One can only hope when being judged by a group of their peers, equality will play a vital role in the outcome of such a precedent setting case for the Commonwealth of KY.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 8:48pm
  5. people who are that fearful, must be afraid of they find within themselves.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 9:02pm
  6. well they get in the butt in prison!!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 11:33pm
  7. In 1976, I helped Scott Appel run for Homecoming Queen at UK. I was naive but learned a lot about hate. My rude request is that some of my male gay friends PLEASE get out there and start raping lots of white male Republicans. Then a few will know some FACTS ABOUT RAPE. (I know x2)

    Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 2:23pm