Washington, D.C., June 10, 2013 – Due to the recovery of DNA evidence, the Charles County (Maryland) Circuit Court vacated Jerry Lee Jenkins' 1986 rape conviction and dismissed all charges against him.
Miller & Chevalier lawyers James Bensfield and Jonathan Kossak, in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP), helped secure this long-fought victory for Jenkins.
"I am so thankful," Jenkins said to his defense team following the proceedings. "You are all incredible."
Bensfield and Kossak were asked by MAIP to represent Jenkins in late 2010, after Jenkins was released from prison and required to register as a sex offender.
Jenkins always maintained his innocence. In 2006, he learned that a man was convicted through DNA evidence of a 1984 rape that sounded nearly identical to the crime he was accused of. But there was no DNA evidence to prove that this man also committed the crime Jenkins went to prison for. The authorities maintained through more than 20 years of legal wrangling that the physical evidence had been lost.
When Maryland enacted legislation in 2009 to permit innocence petitions for non-DNA cases, Jenkins sought the assistance of MAIP to file an innocence claim based on the theory that this other man committed the crime.
Bensfield and Kossak accepted the case with the understanding that DNA evidence did not exist. But before filing the petition, they attempted one last time to search for DNA evidence. This last push turned up a long-forgotten box of physical evidence that contained material that could be DNA-tested.
Bode Technology obtained a full DNA profile on the physical evidence and subsequent testing confirmed that the DNA belonged to another suspect. Due to this evidence, the Circuit Court dismissed Jenkins' charges on June 7.
"We are pleased that Jerry was finally vindicated following his 27-year quest to prove his innocence," Bensfield said.
"It was through solid teamwork with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project that we were able to obtain this incredible result for our client," Kossak said.
Jenkins said he is thrilled to have his name removed from the sex offender registry and the conviction and charges against him dropped.
"I owe you all for life," he said to his lawyers. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
About the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project
The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to correcting and preventing the conviction of innocent people in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. MAIP works with a dedicated Board of Directors and scores of pro bono lawyers and law students to screen and investigate the cases of prisoners who request assistance. MAIP then provides pro bono investigative and legal help in the most compelling cases, working to ensure that innocent prisoners obtain their freedom.
About Miller & Chevalier
Founded in 1920, Miller & Chevalier is a Washington, D.C. law firm with a global perspective and leading practices in Tax, Employee Benefits (including ERISA), International Law and Business, White Collar and Internal Investigations, Complex Litigation, and Government Affairs. For more information on the firm, visit www.millerchevalier.com.
James Bensfield, Miller & Chevalier, 202-626-6032
Laura Miller, Media Relations, Greentarget, 312-252-4104