Third Trial results in First Conviction
Updated 10:38 AM CST, Tue, Jan 3, 2012
Two other juries ended the trial unable to reach a unanimous verdict. But a third panel delivered a conviction for a former security guard who murdered a Palmdale teenager nine years ago. The jury acquitted Raymond Lee Jennings on a first degree murder conviction, but came to a unanimous decision on a second degree murder charge.
It took sheriff's deputies nearly five years of investigation to finally arrest Jennings. Then, it became a struggle for prosecutors. Two other juries were unable to reach a unanimious decision. The first panel was hung at a 9-3 vote for guilty, the second jury deadlocked at 11-1, again in favor of a conviction.
It is unusual for prosectors to try a case a third time, but in this case they did. Jurors have been deliberating since November 24th before reaching their verdict this afternoon.
Prosecutors said O'Keefe was murdered in a park-and-ride lot near Lake Palmdale back in February of 2000. According to investigators, a friend had dropped off O'Keefe after the two worked as extras in a Kid Rock music video. Prosecutors say Jennings approached O'Keefe in the parking lot, and after a brief conversation, shot her several times, leaving her body slumped over in the front seat of her Mustang.
Jennings is a 35-year old former security guard, who had served in Iraq with the National Guard during the first Persian Gulf War.
After the second hung jury, O'Keefe's parents say sitting through the trial was gut-wrenching, but they were ready to go through this a third time. They told the Los Angeles Times, "Heaven forbid this happen to anyone else."
Jennings is set to be sentenced January 22nd.
First Published: Dec 18, 2009 6:40 PM CST