Two Kentucky men have been acquitted of hate-crimes charges in a trial involving an attack on a gay man.
But jurors found both Anthony Ray Jenkins and his cousin David Jason Jenkins guilty on the charges of kidnapping and conspiracy to a kidnapping in connection with the assault on 29-year-old Kevin Pennington last year at a rural state park.
They had been charged with violating a section of a federal hate-crimes law that has not previously been prosecuted in the U.S.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins told the jury that the two men used anti-gay slurs while kicking, beating and stomping on Pennington.
The men have been on trial in U.S. District Court in London.
Over a week of testimony came to a end with attorneys rendering their closing arguments to the jury on Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney AeJean Cha summed up the government’s case.
“It was two against one, they wanted to kill him,” said Cha. “Kevin (Pennington) didn’t have a chance.”
Prosecutors argued the only reason Pennington was attacked was that he is gay and not over a drug deal gone bad as the defense contends.
Cha told the jury the content of letters Anthony Jenkins wrote to his sister Ashley Jenkins while she was incarcerated on charges related to the incident are proof of the defendant’s motives.
“Watch what you say,” wrote Anthony Jenkins.
“Why does Anthony tell Ashley to ‘watch what you say?’ Because he knows she can cook his goose 20 different ways,” Cha told the jury.
Cha noted the government was not required to prove the defendants hated gay people, only that they assaulted Pennington because he is homosexual. According to Cha, during an interview with authorities Anthony Jenkins said homosexuality is wrong and that homosexuals are going to hell.
“These are good old fashioned violent crimes,” said Cha.
Andrew Stephens, attorney for Jason Jenkins, disagreed with the prosecution’s argument that the incident was planned because of Pennington’s sexual preference.
“The only plan these people were capable of putting together was a phone call,” said Stephens.
Stephens noted that some in the group had syringes with them, showing drug involvement.
“You don’t take syringes to a kidnapping,” said Stephens. “You take syringes to a drug deal.”
Stephens argued the reason for the attack on Pennington was because Jason Jenkins believed the drug dealer Pennington was taking them to was a narc, causing Jason Jenkins to “go all redneck.”
“The government failed here — find them not guilty,” said Stephens as he wrapped up his closing arguments.
Anthony Jenkins’ attorney Willis Coffey began by casting doubt on the prosecution’s case.
“The government’s case is…a fake, a fraud. It’s a rip off,” stated Coffey.
Coffey argued the prosecution’s assertion that Pennington entered the Jenkins truck without knowing the identity of those inside was doubtful.
“It is absolutely unbelievable that Pennington got in the backseat of that truck and did not see who was in the front,” said Coffey.
Coffey noted the defendants did not have any problems with homosexuality.
“This turned out to be the most sexually tolerant group of people I’ve ever heard of,” said Coffey, recalling a statement he made earlier in the trial. “In that truck, on that night, nobody cared a bit about Kevin Pennington’s homosexuality.”
According to Coffey, this government’s case is a result of a desire to make a hero out of Pennington while sending teenagers to jail.
“If the government and President Obama want to bow to special interest groups, that’s their problem,” said Coffey. “There are many things wrong with this country, and this prosecution is one of them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article