After night in jail, relative testifies against men charged with hate crime


LONDON — After spending the night in jail for contempt of court, the younger brother and cousin of two men charged in a federal hate-crime case testified Tuesday morning against his relative.

Alex Jenkins said his first cousin Jason Jenkins laughed when talking about assaulting the victim.

"He seemed glad that he had did it," Alex Jenkins said. "He seemed glad and kind of cocky."

Jason Jenkins and Anthony Jenkins are on trial in U.S. District Court in London for allegedly assaulting Kevin Pennington, of Letcher County, because Pennington is gay. The two are charged with conspiracy, with kidnapping Pennington, and with injuring him because of his sexual orientation.

The trial is the first in the nation under a section of the federal hate-crimes law that makes it illegal to attack someone based on the victim's real or perceived sexual orientation. Jason and Anthony Jenkins could face up to life in prison if convicted.

Federal prosecutors called Alex Jenkins to testify about what the two defendants told him about the attack on Pennington, who is 29.

Alex Jenkins, 18, is Anthony's Jenkins' younger brother.

On Monday, he cried on the witness stand and would not testify against his brother.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove jailed him for refusing the judge's order to testify.

Van Tatenhove said he regretted doing so, but that confinement was the penalty outlined in the law for Alex Jenkins' act of civil contempt.

After a night in jail, Alex Jenkins said Tuesday morning that he was ready to testify.

Jason and Anthony Jenkins allegedly took Pennington to a secluded spot in Kingdom Come State Park, near Cumberland, and beat him because he is gay.

Pennington said he escaped when the two stopped hitting him to look in Anthony Jenkins' pickup truck for a tire tool with which to kill him.

Alex Jenkins said that after the attack, Anthony and Jason Jenkins first said Pennington had ripped them off in a drug deal.

However, that was a lie designed to conceal the real reason from Johnny Jenkins — Alex and Anthony's father — because Johnny Jenkins was a friend of Pennington's father, Alex Jenkins testified.

Later, Jason and Anthony Jenkins told him that the real motivation for the attack was Pennington's sexual orientation, Alex Jenkins said.

He said that Jason Jenkins laughed but that his brother, Anthony, seemed more matter-of-fact about the attack.

In response to questions from Anthony Jenkins' attorney, Willis Coffey, Alex Jenkins acknowledged that he had told conflicting stories about what Jason and Anthony Jenkins had told him.

However, he said he was telling the jury the truth.

Defense attorneys have acknowledged that Pennington was assaulted, but they said other factors, such as drug and alcohol abuse or an aborted drug deal, were the reasons, not Pennington's sexual orientation.

Anthony Jenkins' wife, Alexis, and his sister, Ashley, have testified that the two men targeted Pennington for the April 2011 attack because of his sexual orientation.

The men shouted anti-gay slurs as they punched and kicked Pennington, said the two women, who were there.

Alexis and Ashley Jenkins pleaded guilty to aiding in the attack. They have not been sentenced.


Tamayn Irraniah said…
I would love to see justice served here, but as I'm not familiar with all the particulars, I'll have to have faith in the justice system.
Writer said…
Tamayn, given that no one has even attempted to bring up "gay panic," I have a little more faith in the justice system. However, it IS London, KY, so I've yet to start holding my breath. :(

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