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Valerie Jenkins gets probation for her role in husband’s suicide

Valerie Jenkins plead guilty on Monday to manslaughter with a deadly weapon for the May 2009 death of her husband, Robert Jenkins, closing a case that had piqued the interest of legal scholars across Florida. Jenkins attorney, James Best, said it was her decision to plead guilty, “It was what she wanted to do.”

Married for seven years, the Jenkins’ quarreled frequently and on the night of May 4, 2009; the couple argued again because Robert Jenkins had not taken his blood pressure medication and had been drinking beer heavily that fatal night, and through a drunken stupor said that “he wanted to die.”

Tired and exasperated and fed up with her husbands ramblings, Jenkins asked her drunken husband if he wanted his gun. Drunk with ill-rational thoughts, he said “Yes!” Valerie Jenkins proceeded to get her husbands .22-caliber pistol which was located in a dresser drawer and tossed a drunken man the zippered pouch that contained a loaded pistol.

Valerie Jenkins then walked towards the kitchen, when she heard a pop. As she turned around, frozen in a state of shock, she saw her husband slumped over the sofa with a gun shot wound.

Miami-Dade prosecutors Kathleen Hoague and Lody Jean said Valerie Jenkins acted with “reckless disregard for human life.” In preparing its manslaughter case, prosecutors relied on the successful case against Jeramy Ricky Rushing, who in February 1986 gave a loaded and cocked gun to a despondent woman outside a Dania Beach bar.

A Broward County judge dismissed a manslaughter charge against Rushing, but an appeals court later reinstated the case and a jury convicted him. Like Jenkins, Rushing did not receive any jail time but was sentenced to two years of house arrest plus 300 hours of community service.

On Monday, Best asked Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Leon Firtel to dismiss the case against his client, saying Robert Jenkins’ “independent intervening act” of suicide could not have been foreseen by his wife. Judge Firtel acknowledged the “mental gymnastics” that the legal case posed for him and legal observers, but declined to throw out the case, clearing the way for a jury trial.

Valerie Jenkins ultimately would have faced a maximum of 30 years in prison, decided against trial. It’s a difficult case for everybody and it should be resolved,” said Judge Firtel.

For handing her drunk /suicidal husband a loaded pistol, which he used to kill himself, Valerie Jenkins will serve five years of probation. “The important thing to the family of the victim is the admission of guilt and that she is convicted. The issue of jail time was not the main concern,” said Kathleen Hoague, Miami-Dade Chief Assistant State Attorney.

photo credit: jonathanturley.com

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January 25, 2012 Posted by | Court News | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment