Two of the teenagers charged in the nation’s first-ever federal anti-gay hate crime case pleaded guilty today in a Kentucky court.
Alexis Leeann Jenkins and Mable Ashley Jenkins, who goes by Ashley, pleaded guilty to one charge of kidnapping and one charge of aiding others in causing bodily injury to Kevin Pennington of Letcher County because he is gay. The convictions are the first in the nation under provisions of the federal law covering crimes of violence motivated by a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, according to U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey. The two face possible life sentences. The circumstances of their pleas, however, could indicate they plan to cooperate with prosecutors in hopes of getting lesser sentences.
The two agreed to be charged by way of a document called an information — as opposed to an indictment, which would require a grand jury to approve the charges — and pleaded guilty the same day the charges were filed. Their attorneys, Robert Michael Murphy of Lexington and James Hibbard of London, declined comment on whether the women, both 19, will cooperate in prosecuting two others charged in the case. Both women are to be sentenced in August.
The two women were accused of luring a gay man to a planned lethal beating by their two male accomplices. The victim escaped into the woods during the attack and survived. The two men have pleaded not guilty and face life in prison.