Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project

Jerry Lee Jenkins Exoneration

After serving more than ten years in prison and being required to register as a sex offender, on June 7, 2013, Charles County Circuit Court vacated MAIP client Jerry Lee Jenkins’ 1986 rape conviction and dismissed the rape charges for which he had been convicted. DNA testing proved not only that Mr. Jenkins was innocent of the crime, but also that another man — a serial rapist in Virginia and Maryland — was the real perpetrator. The assistant state’s attorney conceded Mr. Jenkins did not commit this crime.

Mr. Jenkins was convicted even though the victim testified at trial that he only looked like her attacker and that she could not be positive that he was her attacker. He also was convicted despite being excluded as the perpetrator of a 1984 rape that had eerie similarities to the 1986 rape and that both Charles County police and the FBI believed had been committed by the same person who committed the 1986 rape.

Mr. Jenkins had always proclaimed his innocence of the crime and first sought DNA testing to prove his innocence in 1988, when DNA testing was in its infancy. Unfortunately, the DNA testing available at the time was unable to obtain a result. When he again attempted to obtain DNA testing in the mid-1990s, he was told that the evidence did not exist. For the next fifteen years, he was told again and again that the physical evidence did not exist.

Then, in 2006, he learned that a notorious serial rapist who was incarcerated in Virginia had been convicted of the 1984 rape based on a DNA cold hit. He wrote to MAIP, and Screening Director Eily Raman recommended immediately accepting it as a non-DNA case. After an investigation that convinced MAIP staff that the other man had committed the crime, MAIP teamed up with partner Jim Bensfield and associate Jonathan Kossak of Miller & Chevalier to litigate the case.

In 2010, before filing a non-DNA innocence claim based on the non-biological evidence, MAIP and Miller & Chevalier decided to attempt one last search for DNA evidence. This time, Charles County was able to locate a box of physical evidence containing a hair. Technicians at Bode Technologies obtained a full Y-STR profile on semen that remained on the hair, and subsequent testing confirmed that the semen belonged to another man.

Mr Jenkins was no longer incarcerated, but he’s thrilled to be off the sex offender registry and have the stigma of the rape removed from his record.

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