A 24-year-old man whose Minneapolis double-murder case was featured in a true-crime TV show — causing a debate over access to the video footage — was acquitted of all charges Friday.
Both the prosecution and defense attorneys went to court to demand that the A&E network's "The First 48" show release footage taken during the investigation to bolster their cases. But the show didn't play a role in the jury's verdicts that cleared Antonio F. Jenkins Jr. of multiple murder and attempted murder charges.
According to court documents, Jenkins, of Bloomington, was the gunman in the July 25 shooting in Peavey Park.
The victims, Abdirahman A. Jined, 24, and Jorge U. Zavaleta-Martinez, 20, were considered innocent bystanders in a gang feud, police said.
The trial lasted two weeks, and it took jurors only a few hours to reach their verdicts, said Mary Moriarty, Hennepin County chief public defender.
"We didn't think Mr. Jenkins should have been prosecuted in the first place," she said.
"We presented evidence that showed somebody else committed the crime"
"The First 48" features law enforcement agencies that allow cameras to follow officers during criminal investigations.
The production company, Kirkstall Road Enterprises, has refused to give up the video. The county attorney's office declined to comment Friday, but County Attorney Mike Freeman said previously that the show hampers both sides' ability to do their job effectively.
The show's production team received access to evidence, witnesses and the crime scene rarely available to other media, Moriarty said. Since the show has also documented other Minneapolis homicides, she believes both sides will continue to fight for the release of footage.
As Jenkins' case moved forward, one major consideration was whether failing to release the footage — and whatever evidence it may contain — would indeed violate his constitutional right to a fair trial.
"I think because the premise of show is that murders can grow more difficult to solve after the first 48 hours, there might be additional pressure to come up with a suspect," she said. "I'm glad we were able to present evidence to the jury and convince them he was innocent."
No one else has been charged in the two killings at Peavey Park, she said.
This is not Jenkins' first police encounter. He has been convicted of aggravated robbery, a felony for which he served 17 months in prison, and terroristic threats, a felony.
"But Friday's verdict brought incredible relief to Mr. Jenkins and his family, many of whom were present in the courtroom," Moriarty said. "We are very happy for them."
Jordan Deckenbach and Juanita Kyle handled the case for the public defender's office.