Shooter guilty in Kings murder; brother set free

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2003

[06/14/03] The shooter in a slaying last year in the Kings community was convicted Friday night of murder, and his brother, the accused getaway driver, was set free.

Tyrone Jenkins, 29, who gave his address in court as 5034 Wellborn Drive, Columbus, Ga., was convicted of murder in the June 5, 2002, death of Dean Johnson, who was 21, near Ford Road. He was sentenced by Warren County Circuit Court Judge Isadore Patrick to the mandatory life in prison on his conviction, which a jury returned shortly before it was read at about 8 p.m.

His older brother, Kevin Jay Jenkins, 33, who gave his address in court as 101 Central Drive, who had also been indicted for murder, was found not guilty.

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The jury chose the murder conviction for Tyrone Jenkins above the lesser crime of manslaughter, for which Patrick also gave it the option to convict.

At Kevin Jenkins’ request, no option to convict him of a lesser offense was given the jury. He could have requested that the jury be given an option to convict him of having been an accessory after the fact, Patrick said.

Tyrone Jenkins was also convicted of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, for which he could receive an additional prison sentence of up to three years, said Assistant District Attorney John Bullard, who handled the state’s presentation of the case. Patrick set sentencing on that charge for June 27.

“Now we can go on with our lives and keep with us the wonderful memories of our deceased loved one,” said Kathryn Blue, a first cousin of Johnson, on behalf of his family following the verdict.

Testimony in the trial ended before noon Friday, capping three and a half days, with 23 different people taking the witness stand. The sequestered jury, which was picked Monday, deliberated for about two hours and 15 minutes.

Johnson was shot three times, once fatally, the state medical examiner had testified. He died in a neighbor’s yard near the southern end of Ford Road about 8:30 p.m. on June 5, 2002.

Witnesses, including Tyrone Jenkins himself, described a chase that began with his exiting a sport-utility vehicle driven by Kevin Jenkins about 100 yards north of where the final shot was fired. Jenkins testified that he shot Johnson in self-defense, saying Johnson had hit him in the head with a piece of a cinder block at a neighborhood picnic table earlier in the day and threatened to kill him.

“When you arm yourself with a brick and a bottle and a gun, how big can you be?” James Penley argued for Tyrone Jenkins in response to Bullard’s pointing out that Jenkins was considerably larger and older than Johnson. “You become a dangerous person, somebody to be feared, somebody that will make you look over your shoulder.”

Bullard argued Friday that the evidence clearly showed Tyrone Jenkins killed Johnson deliberately, as opposed to in the heat of passion or in self-defense.

“It has to be immediate, sudden,” Bullard said of the threat that would be required for the jury to return a reduced verdict. “It can’t be, Another man humiliated me in front of my friends in the neighborhood and I’m angry and I’m going to kill him.

“(Jenkins) had time to calm down, but, in this case, he used his time to plan to kill Dean Johnson.”

Kevin Jenkins testified in his own defense Friday morning, saying his younger brother met him at a neighborhood grocery store after Kevin had worked that day, and asked him for a ride to their mother’s house near where the shooting took place.

“It wasn’t none of my business,” Kevin Jenkins said of his lack of knowledge of the trouble that occurred earlier in the day between Johnson and Tyrone Jenkins.

Kevin Jenkins was “innocent of any knowledge that something very severe may be coming about,” his attorney, Eugene Perrier, argued Friday.

Three prosecution witnesses testified that Kevin Jenkins drove slowly, paralleling the chase along Ford Road, exited his vehicle near where the shooting ended and displayed a gun to an approaching crowd. In his testimony Friday, Jenkins denied those claims.

“Come on, man, let’s go,” he said he called to his brother after the shooting ended.

Shortly after leaving the Ford subdivision onto North Washington Street, Vicksburg Police officer Bobby Stewart spotted and began following the Jenkinses’ vehicle. Kevin Jenkins then drove to the police department, where the two surrendered.

After the trial, Tyrone Jenkins was returned to jail, and Judge Patrick released Kevin Jenkins from the bond on which he had been free since two weeks after being taken into custody.