Attacker apologizes to victim for brutal anti-gay hate attack

AP and WiG reports

A man convicted of kidnapping has apologized to his victim in southern Kentucky.

WYMT-TV in Hazard reported Anthony Jenkins, 20, apologized to Kevin Pennington at a U.S. District Court hearing in London. He told Pennington he wasn’t proud of what he did.

Prosecutors won kidnapping convictions against Jenkins and his cousin, Jason Jenkins, 37, but jurors did not convict the men of a hate crime.

“I regret participating in this assault on April 4, 2011. It’s not something I am proud of. I understand how one bad choice can affect so many lives,” Anthony Jenkins told Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove, adding that his mother was killed in 2006. “I’m asking on your behalf if you’ll have mercy on me.”

Prosecutors asked the court to send Anthony Jenkins to prison for more than 19 years and Jason Jenkins for nearly 34 years, saying they abducted Pennington because he is gay. They called the attack “horrific and violent” and said the suspects “intended to kill him.”

Kevin Pennington also addressed the judge, saying he still suffers from injuries he received in the attack.

“The night this happened, I begged these people to stop, and never not once did they stop,” he said. “It got worse. They had every intentions of killing me. I endured pain, not just physical, the terror.”

Jason Jenkins declined to make a statement to the judge.

Last October, a federal jury convicted the two Jenkins on federal kidnapping charges and conspiracy charges, exposing them to a maximum of life imprisonment. The jury also acquitted the men of violating the sexual orientation provision of the Matthew Shepard James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. .

The federal jury in London, Kentucky, convicted the defendants for their conduct related to the April 4, 2011 assault of Pennington. Testimony at trial established that the defendants, who are cousins, carried out the crime with help from two other relatives – Mable Ashley Jenkins, 20; and Alexis LeeAnn Jenkins, 19 – who both pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting kidnapping and aiding and abetting the hate crime assault against Pennington prior to trial and testified against the defendants.

During the hearing, Mable Ashley Jenkins testified her husband Jason Jenkins used to beat her up and was prone to violence. Another woman testified Jason Jenkins once raped and beat her.

Alexis Jenkins, the wife of Anthony Jenkins, testified he used to hit her.

Both women pleaded guilty to federal hates crimes charges, representing the first federal convictions under the sexual orientation provision of the Matthew Shepard James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, according to the FBI.

The evidence established that the defendants and their female co-conspirators planned in advance of the assault to kidnap Pennington, take him to a remote location, and beat him to death. After luring Pennington by false pretenses into a truck being driven by Anthony Jenkins, the group drove Pennington up a deserted mountain road into Kingdom Come State Park, where they dragged Pennington into the road and beat him.

The evidence also established that Pennington escaped while the defendants were searching in the back of the truck for a tire iron to use to kill Pennington. Pennington ran off the road and threw himself over a ledge, where he hid behind a rock until the defendants finally gave up searching for him and drove away. Pennington staggered part-way down the mountain, where he found a ranger shack, broke a window, and called 911.

The defendant’s co-conspirators, Ashley and Alexis Jenkins, both testified that they and the defendants had agreed in advance to lure Pennington into the truck, drive him to a deserted area, and beat him because of his sexual orientation. The women also testified that during the beating, the defendants and their co-conspirators used anti-gay slurs and yelled, “Kill the f—t!” and that the group intended to kill Pennington

No date has been set for pronouncement of sentencing.