The case was the first federal trial invoking sexual-orientation statutes in the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The Jenkins, however, were found guilty for kidnapping and conspiracy in connection with the attack on Pennington. Their attorneys successfully argued that it wasn’t homophobia but simply a drug deal gone bad that prompted the attack.
Andrew Stephens, the attorney for David Jason Jenkins, argued that his client had at least 21 beers on the day of the assault and was too drunk to have formulated a plan for such an attack.
“These people who were stoned and drunk were going to form a plan? When this event took place, they were all about drugs,” Stephens said.
Attorney Willis Coffey, who represents Anthony Jenkins, argued that his client has an IQ of roughly 75 and was merely a follower who does not hate gay people. He called the allegations “the nearest thing to nothing I have ever seen.”
Coffey said Pennington pushed the idea that he was attacked for being gay to serve his own political agenda. Coffey invoked the name of the Democratic president who is unpopular in Kentucky and lost badly there four years ago.
“If the government and President Obama want to bow to the special interest groups, that’s their business, but they picked the wrong case,” Coffey said.
The men were acquitted despite testimony from relatives Ashley and Alexis Jenkins claiming they had used anti-gay slurs while beating Pennington. Ashley insisted that Anthony and David had intended to kidnap, beat and eventually kill Pennington because he was gay.
Attorney Hydee Hawkins also played a 911 tape in which Pennington says, “They’re trying to kill me. I didn’t know what they were going to do. I think it’s because I’m gay.”
Hawkins claimed it was a day for accountability—though it seems the buck stopped a bit short of London, Kentucky.