Sentencing Hearing In Historic Federal Trial In Laurel County

Reported by: Aaron Adelson
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Updated: 2/21/2013 9:19 pm
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AAdelsonABC36

It's a precedent setting case in the United States.  At the federal court in Laurel County sentencing began for the the first two defendants ever tried for a hate crime based on the victim's sexual orientation. Sentencing begins next week for the first two people pleading guilty to a hate crime for the victim's sexual orientation

The prosecution asked the judge to sentence Jason Jenkins to more than 30 years in federal prison, and just under 20 years for Anthony Jenkins.  A jury convicted them of kidnapping and assault, but acquitted them of the hate crime.

Anthony Jenkins' lawyer asked for 5 years.  Jason Jenkins' lawyer asked for 10-12 years in prison. 

The victim of the crime, Kevin Pennington, addressed the court.  The defendants assaulted him at Kingdom Come State Park in Harlan County on April 4th, 2011. 

Pennington told the judge he still lives in fear.  Pennington says he cut himself off from everybody in his life, and is afraid to leave his home.

 He said more than two years since the assault, he is still injured.  The defense has argued this case was a drug deal gone bad.  Pennington said there was never a drug deal. 

He says the defendants picked him up at his home, took him up a mountain, and intended to kill him. 

Pennington says he jumped off a mountain while the defendants went to get a tire iron to kill him.  He said he is lucky to be alive. 

The first witness the prosecution called was Connie Jenkins, Jason's wife.  She told the judge how Jason beat her repeatedly.  She also said Jason called her from jail just after the assault, and said it happened because the victim was gay. 

Connie said before giving grand jury testimony, Jason told her to say it was a drug deal gone bad.  The prosecution argued Jason obstructed justice telling a woman he formerly abused what to say under oath. 

We also heard character testimony from a woman who says Jason beat and raped her, but she did not press charges, because she felt bad for Jason's Mom. 

The prosecution also argued Anthony obstructed justice.  They brought up letters from jail he wrote to his wife Alexis, another defendant, telling her if she loves him, then she won't testify.  She took a plea deal.

 Alexis Jenkins and Ashley Jenkins are the first people in the country to plead guilty to a hate crime for a victim's sexual orientation.  Their sentencing begins next week. 

Alexis then testified that Anthony beat her and caused a miscarriage. 

They attorneys also argued whether boots and tennis shoes could be considered "Dangerous weapons," which would enhance the sentence. 

They also argued about the degree of injury Pennington suffered.  He did not suffer any fractures, but was bruised for weeks, lost consciousness during the assault, and is still in pain two years later. 

We don't know when the judge will issue the sentence.  He said he wanted to think about everything he heard. 
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