Penalty phase for man convicted of Sunhouse murders, robberies continues

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The penalty phase of the trial for Jerome Jenkins’s, the man convicted of the 2015 Sunhouse murders and robberies continued on Tuesday.

The state called five correctional officers from the South Carolina Department of Corrections to testify about Jenkins’s behavior in the maximum security facility where he was held while awaiting trial.

The first witness, a former correctional officer at Lee Correctional Institution testified how Jenkins threw a bodily fluid at him and the nurse trying to give him his medication.

Two other correctional officers with SCDC told the jury about times where Jenkins threatened to kill them and other officers and struck them with a metal object and a homemade knife, drawing blood.

Then, Sgt. Vanessa Fox, a correctional officer with SCDC testified that while trying to close Jenkins’s food service flap, Jenkins squeezed feces from the squeeze bottle in her face, which then got into her eyes and mouth.

Fox explained how Jenkins’s behavior that day put her life in danger.

“There’s nothing you can do once you’ve had feces thrown on you but to try to clean up and get it off of you as much as possible. At that point, because I had it all on me, I went home to try to shower and get it off and make doctors appointments, because you don’t know what you’ve contracted because somebody’s thrown the feces on you. You don’t know what kind of diseases they have,” Fox said.

The chief psychiatrist at SCDC, Dr. Beverly Wood testified that she treated Jenkins twice while he was in their custody, and she diagnosed him with an unspecified anxiety disorder.

The state called Horry County Sheriff’s Office employee, Christina Snyder to the stand to read a suicide letter that Jenkins wrote at J. Reuben Long Detention Center,  before he was transferred to Lee Correctional for his conduct.

Snyder read the letter during her testimony, where Jenkins wrote, in part, “Before I take my life I want you to know I love you mama, and I did kill that man and that woman. I ain’t sorry for what I did, but I wish I can take it back.”

The state then called a former nurse at J. Reuben Long who testified that when she asked Jenkins if he was suicidal after seeing the letter, he told her that he was not suicidal, and he wrote the letter to get money from his mom and auntie.

The state rested its case and the defense called Atina Jenkins, Jerome Jenkins’s mother to the stand.

She testified that her son started getting in trouble in school at a young age. His mother told the court that doctors told her he needed medication for his attention deficit disorder, but she chose not to medicate him.

On the stand, Atina Jenkins said out of her seven children, Jerome is the only sibling with the last name, ‘Jenkins.’ She said that always made him feel different.

The judge reminded Jenkins of his right to testify or make a statement to the jury without being cross-examined. Jenkins said he would not testify, and he has not decided if he will make a statement.

The trial will continue tomorrow with more witness testimony from the defense.

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