Less than a week before Michael A. Jenkins was scheduled to go on trial for the Dec. 1 beating death of a Palmyra woman, he pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated murder and felonious assault and will avoid the death penalty.
Michael Jenkins, 23, along with his brother, Douglas J. Jenkins, 20, both of 315 Franklin St. Apt. 2, Ravenna, were indicted by a Portage County grand jury on charges of aggravated murder in connection with the death of Carole J. Howd, 51, who died of a blunt injury to her head in bed at 8965 Corbett Road.
As part of his plea agreement with the Portage County Prosecutor's Office, Michael Jenkins agreed to a sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years.
The Jenkins brothers were scheduled to go on trial in separate Portage County Common Pleas courtrooms this week. They could have been sentenced to death in accordance with indictments handed down by a Portage County grand jury.
In his plea, which was filed Monday, Michael Jenkins also agreed to a three-year prison term for using a firearm while committing his crime and a separate two-year term for felonious assault as part of his sentence. A charge of attempted aggravated murder against him was amended to a charge of felonious assault in connection with injuries Howd's housemate, Guy Lantz, suffered during the incident .
The Jenkins brothers also were charged with aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence. The remaining charges against Michael Jenkins were dismissed as part of his plea.
Michael Jenkins entered his plea in Judge John Enlow's courtroom and also agreed to "cooperate fully and completely in the prosecution and conviction" of his brother, Joseph W. Wittenberger and Kenneth Lame.
Douglas Jenkins' trial was to have started this morning in Judge Joseph Kainrad's courtroom.
Wittenberger, 19, of 8437 S.R. 303, Windham, was arrested at the same time as the Jenkins brothers. He later was indicted on charges of complicity to aggravated murder, complicity to attempted aggravated murder, complicity to aggravated robbery, complicity to aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence.
Wittenberger waived his right to a speedy trial, and a trial date has not yet been set.
Lame, 20, of 610 Lincoln St., Ravenna, who was not at the crime scene, faces a charge of obstruction of justice, for allegedly giving false information to a Portage County Sheriff's deputy during the course of the investigation.
A gag order is in place regarding the four cases filed in connection with Howd's death, prohibiting prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement officials and jurors from speaking about the cases.