After kidnapping and assaulting a gay man in Kentucky, four relatives were charged under the landmark Matthew Shepard James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, but two were ultimtely acquitted.
The four relatives, David Jenkins, 39, Anthony Jenkins, 22, Mable Jenkins, 20 and Alexis Jenkins, 20, will be serving time behind bars, however, for related kidnapping and assault charges.
The kidnapping incident occurred in 2011 when the four allegedly lured Kevin Pennington, a gay man, into a truck and drove him to a deserted area in Kingdom Come State Park. It was there that David and Anthony Jenkins beat Pennington, who was able to escape when the two went looking for a tire arm to allegedly kill him, according to prosecutors.
David was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison and Anthony will serve 17 years. The two women, Mable and Alexis, testified against their relatives and pleaded guilty to all charges. Mable, who will serve eight years and four months behind bars, and Alexis, who will serve eight years, are the first to be convicted under the landmark Matthew Shepard James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The hate crimes act is a federal law that was passed in 2009 making hate crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation a federal offense. The act was expanded that same year to include a victim’s perceived sexual orientation, gender or disability.
Hate crime legislation became an increasingly prominent issue after the two victims the act was named after, Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., were brutally killed in separate 1998 incidents. Shepard, a 21-year-old gay student, was tortured and left for dead in Wyoming and Byrd was a 49-year-old black man who was murdered by white supremacists by getting dragged behind a truck until he was decapitated.
David and Anthony Jenkins were charged under the act in addition to kidnapping and assault charges, but were acquitted of the former despite the fact the crime was motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.