The widow of a security guard who was shot to death on the job last year says she was flooded with emotions when a five-man, three-woman jury convicted the man who fired a bullet into her husband's neck.
Stephanie Jenkins, wife of murder victim Verne Jenkins, had tears in her eyes as she spoke outside the courtroom Thursday after a three-day trial. She praised prosecutors in the case and was satisfied with the jury's decision.
"I felt relief that they returned the verdict they did, but that doesn't change the situation it doesn't bring my husband back," she said.
The jury convicted Roger Allen Malcolm of first-degree felony murder for fatally shooting Verne Jenkins on Dec. 26, 2007, at the Sapp Brothers truck stop at 1953 W. California Ave. in Salt Lake City.
Third District Judge Paul Maughan ordered a pre-sentence report and set sentencing for Aug. 18. The offense carries a 15-years-to-life term.
Malcolm's defense attorney, Rudy Batista, said he would appeal.
"The evidence I saw showed was clear Mr. Malcolm was attacked (by Jenkins,) he was provoked, but the jury disagreed and that is our criminal justice system ... We have several strong appellate issues," Batista said.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Alicia Cook said the jury came to the right conclusion and she was grateful for the time and effort they put into their deliberations.
Both sides in the trial had agreed on this much: There was no reason for Jenkins to die that day.
But they disagreed about who was to blame for what both describe as a tragedy.
Cook contended that Malcolm, 51, was guilty of murder for shooting Jenkins in the neck, an act that jammed the victim's airway with damaged tissue and caused him to quickly die from suffocation and bleeding. Cook said Malcolm had been yelling at the truck stop's cashiers for not waiting on him fast enough and that Jenkins was simply trying to escort Malcolm off the property.
In contrast, Batista said his client was in the process of trying to leave when Jenkins, for some unknown reason, went over, grabbed Malcolm violently and tried to put him in a choke hold. Malcolm fired only in self-defense because he feared for his life, thinking that Jenkins was reaching for a weapon, according to Batista.
It was later discovered that Jenkins was unarmed.
During closing arguments on Thursday, Cook went over videotapes from the truck stop's security cameras and paused them several times, using a tiny flashlight to point out certain details.
Cook told the jury it is true that Jenkins put a hand on Malcolm's shoulder, but witnesses testified that it appeared to them he was trying to escort Malcolm out or to detain or restrain him.
"What Verne did did not justify getting shot," she said.
Cook had urged the jury to review all the events of the day, including crude remarks Malcolm made after he shot Jenkins and the fact that he calmly sat down on a chair rather than helping the dying man all behavior that shows Malcolm's mental state and a depraved indifference for human life, she said.
Batista, however, scoffed at the idea that this was merely a scuffle or fist fight in which Malcolm overreacted by pulling a gun.
"A scuffle isn't trying to get someone in a choke hold. A fist fight isn't body slamming someone to the floor," Batista said.
Jenkins, he argued, had no legal right to jump Malcolm, who was trying to leave the building when Jenkins attacked him. Malcolm ended up panicking, afraid that Jenkins was going to pull a gun of his own, and fired his gun just to protect himself, Batista said.Batista also said Malcolm was not as disruptive in the truck stop as he has been portrayed and that he only asked four times in an admittedly loud voice whether he was going to get waited on or whether he should go to another cash register.