An Horry County jury found Jerome Jenkins guilty of murder, armed robbery and attempted murder Saturday afternoon, so the same jury will decide this week whether to spare his life or hand down a death sentence.
The final witness in the trial, Horry County Police Det. Greg Lent said Jenkins was accompanied by James Daniels and McKinley Daniels when he committed the crime.
He said detectives were first pointed toward the Daniels when they viewed a video of the killing at the Sunhouse on S.C. 905 where Bala Parachuri was shot nine times.
He said one of the detectives recognized James Daniels in the store’s video and then they determined that a car that shows up repeatedly in three crime scene videos belonged to Daniels’ girlfriend.
They went to her home where they found the vehicle. When Daniels learned police were at her home, he went there and talked with them.
Lent said they interviewed him several times, learning that his brother McKinley Daniels was also involved. The two Daniels then pointed police to Jenkins.
At the time, police were investigating three armed robberies that resulted in two murders. In addition to the S.C. 905 Sunhouse murder, Jenkins is charged with participating in a killing at the Sunhouse on Oak Street at Cultra Road in Conway and an armed robbery at Lake Arrowhead Road in Myrtle Beach.
During questioning Saturday, Lent said in Parachuri’s killing, Jenkins told him that McKinley Daniels had a gun in the back seat and he told him he had to participate because the Daniels had given him some money and they said he had to “put in some work.”
He also said Jenkins told him he had smoked some “wet”, which is PCP, and he said James Daniels identified himself as an IGD, or Insane Gangster Disciple, that Lent agreed is something like being a member of the Bloods or Crips.
Lent said Jenkins did not claim membership in the group.
The defense wanted to emphasis that Jenkins was the youngest of the three perpetrators and that all three men were involved.
In his closing argument, deputy solicitor Scott Hixson told the jury that Jenkins has three prior convictions for non-violent crimes that all landed him in prison.
In regard to the crime, he said, “It was vicious. It was brutal.”
And, he said, anyone who views the video can clearly see that Jenkins’ involvement was voluntary and that the crime was well planned.
Jenkins’ attorney Ralph Wilson told the jury in his opening statement that Jenkins took part in the crime and was guilty of all three charges.
Hixson said although he said he was guilty, the prosecution had to prove it to the satisfaction of the jury.
Brana Williams, who is assisting Wilson in the trial, had a closing argument that took only a couple of minutes. In it, she pointed out that Jenkins was guilty only because he was there and the law in South Carolina says if someone is present during a crime and appears to take part in it they’re guilty through “the hand of one is the hand of all” principle.
The sentencing portion of the trial is set to start Monday morning at 9:30 in Courtroom 3B.
In a rarely seen strategic move, defense attorney Ralph Wilson told a jury this afternoon that his client Jerome Jenkins is guilty of murder, attempted murder and armed robbery
The primary issue in the trial, he said, is what the penalty will be. Solicitor Jimmy Richardson is seeking the death penalty for Jenkins, who is charged with killing 40-year-old Bala Parachuri, who was working in the Sunhouse Convenience Store at 7406 S.C. 905 at Red Bluff Road on Jan. 2, 2015.
Referring to Richardson’s opening statement, Wilson said, “A lot of what he said to you is absolutely true. JJ killed him; he killed him. He’s guilty of the charges that the State has brought.”
Richardson said the crime involved three co-defendants. James Daniels, drove the car, his brother, McKinley Daniels, and Jenkins went into the store together and took less than one minute to kill Parachuri.
Jimmy McZeke, who was also working in the store the night of the killing, testified that when he learned that there had been a robbery at the Dollar General, only about 50 yards from the Sunhouse, he rushed to tell Parachuri they needed to close. He went to the back of the store to tend to the icebox and start cutting off lights when he heard gunshots. He said he ran into the bathroom, locked the door, threw himself onto the floor and stayed there for about 15 minutes.
While McZeke was inside the bathroom, at least one bullet flew through the bathroom door, hit a bottle that broke sending glass flying past him and cutting his face.
When he was convinced that the men were gone, he ran out of the door, colliding with and knocking down a customer who was headed into the store. He rushed down the street where police were still investigating the Dollar General robbery and summoned them to the Sunhouse.
They found Parachuri on the floor dead. Dr. Edward L. “Lee” Proctor Jr., who performed the autopsy on Parachuri, said the convenience store clerk had 11 bullet holes in his body. Although any one of three would have been deadly, Proctor said, the worst went through Parachuri’s head.
Five or six of the bullets traveled through Parachuri’s body, according to Proctor.
One bullet taken from Parachuri’s leg was gathered as evidence, according to Jill Domogauer, crime scene investigator with the Horry County Police Department.
Prosecutors planned to show the jury a video of the killing this evening and will play Jenkins’ statement to police detective Greg Lent Saturday morning when the trial continues.
In the statement, Jenkins said he shot Parachuri, but did it only because the Daniels were holding guns to his head and told him to shoot. He said he shot Parachuri, but he wasn’t dead until McKinley Daniels reached over the counter and shot him several more times.
He told Lent he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison and didn’t want a lethal injection, so he decided to cooperative with police.
James Daniels, 31, of Nichols was previously sentenced to life without chance of parole, and McKinley Daniels, 37, of Loris was sentenced to 45 years in jail.
Before the trial began, Wilson told Circuit Judge Robert Hood that the defense’s plan was to admit Jenkins’ guilty, but to make sure they knew the aggravating, mitigating circumstances.
Hood then asked Wilson if Jenkins understood his plan and if he thought it was the best tactice to take for Jenkins. He answered yes to both. Hood then asked Jenkins if he understood and if he thought it was the best approach for Wilson to take. He, too, answered yes.
Hood then explained that the trial had to be handled that way for it to go to a jury to decide Jenkins’ sentence.
If he had simply pleaded guilty, sentencing would have rested on Hood.
The trial will get continue Saturday morning at 9 a.m.