the evening of February 22, 2000, Jennings was
working as an unarmed security guard for All Valley Security patrolling a
Park-N-Ride lot in Palmdale,
California. Earlier that
afternoon, Michelle O?Keefe had come to the lot to meet her friend, Jennifer
Peterson. The two were going to Los
Angeles to participate as extras in the filming of a
Kid Rock video. O?Keefe parked her blue Mustang in the lot and the two rode in
Peterson?s car to Los Angeles.
For the filming, O?Keefe dressed in a short skirt and tube top, and wore a
black, vinyl jacket over the tube top.
the filming, the women returned to the Park-N-Ride. Peterson testified that
shortly before they arrived, O?Keefe made two calls. Based on this testimony
and cell phone records, investigators determined the girls arrived at the lot
between 9:22 and 9:23 p.m. After spending a few minutes as O?Keefe transferred
belongings to her car, Peterson drove off. Peterson would testify that
O?Keefe?s car was originally parked under street a light at Position A, on the attached
map . The actual location of O?Keefe?s car at the beginning of the crime
however, was Position B.
Regarding the two locations of O?Keefe?s Mustang, Peterson
speculated to investigators that O?Keefe must have moved her car from Position
A, near a light pole, to a darker spot at Position B, to change clothes prior
to attending an evening college class; but neither the moving of O?Keefe?s car
nor O?Keefe?s intent in doing so has ever been definitively established.
this time, Jennings
was at the bus stop at Position C when he heard a car alarm sound toward the
west end of the parking lot. As he began walking in that direction, he heard
what sounded like a gunshot and immediately knelt down. His position was
adjacent to his personal vehicle, parked at Position D. As Jennings stood back up, the car alarm went
silent and he heard what sounded like an engine ?revving up.? As he began to
walk toward the sound, he heard several more gunshots and took cover behind his
vehicle. After the gunshots, he glanced over his vehicle along Line Of Sight J
to see the Mustang rolling backward toward Position E. Jennings, who was
nearsighted and not wearing his glasses (they were in his car), did not see
anyone outside the vehicle.
Video taken on the night of the crime showed Jennings without glasses.
p.m., court records show that Jennings radioed All Valley
dispatch and reported ?shots being fired? at the Park-N-Ride. He did not report
that anyone had been shot.
p.m., Jennings? supervisor, Iris Malone arrived
at the location of Jennings?
vehicle (Position D) in her security patrol vehicle. When Jennings approached her, he directed her
attention to the Mustang, approximately 403 feet away at Position E, as the
area where the shots had come from. Malone requested Jennings accompany her to the Mustang but he
refused, being unsure whether the gunman was still in the area. He further told
Malone twice during this conversation that she should not proceed either, but
should wait for police. Malone disregarded this advice however and proceeded to
the scene along Path K. Her vehicle was equipped with flashing lights and a
spotlight, all of which were turned on.
at the Mustang, Malone observed there was a wounded victim in the vehicle
showing no signs of life. She then radioed All Valley
dispatch and requested police and rescue. After about 5 minutes, Malone radioed
told him to join her at the crime scene. Jennings,
believing the scene to be secure, began walking toward the Mustang along Path
F. This would have put Jennings?
movement at about 9:47 p.m.
reached Position M, his attention was drawn to a driver (later identified as
Victoria Richardson) in a gray vehicle, 107 feet away at Position L, who was
asking him if there had been a shooting. Jennings
replied that he ?did not know? and proceeded to the crime scene.
The encounter with Richardson was
not reported immediately by Jennings,
but supervisor Malone did report seeing a car, possibly orange, leaving the
area after she arrived. At the time of the encounter, Jennings
was not aware that Richardson
had been near the crime scene or that she was a possible witness.
When Jennings arrived at the
scene, he did not have his flashlight. It was left in his car with his glasses.
He borrowed Malone?s flashlight to look around the crime scene. Seeing shell
casings on the ground, Jennings
commented they appeared to be ?.38 caliber or 9mm.?
p.m., Deputy Billy Cox arrived at the crime scene. He found the Mustang resting
with its rear wheels on a planter island at Position E and its front wheels on
the pavement. The driver?s door was open and the window down about 4-1/2
inches. The engine was running and the transmission was in neutral. He could
not hear the engine running however until he was near the vehicle. O?Keefe?s
left leg protruded from the vehicle, her foot on the pavement. O?Keefe was
still wearing the club clothes she had worn for the video filming. She had five
wounds. One blunt force trauma wound to her forehead and four gunshot wounds:
one to her chest (which had heavy gunpowder stippling), one to her left cheek,
one to her neck, and one in the inner corner of her left eye. The latter three
wounds had lighter stippling. There were five 9mm shell casings on the pavement
between Position B and the Mustang?s resting place. Seeing a slug on the ground
and a gouge in the asphalt, Jennings
also commented that it looked like the gunman had fired into the ground.
three hours after the shooting, detectives Diane Harris and Richard Longshore
arrived at the scene. Inside the car, they found O?Keefe?s wallet containing
$111 and a change of clothes. Her cell phone, which she had been using
immediately before the crime, was not found and was never located. After taking
statements from Jennings
and Malone, they allowed the two to leave.
Important note: Among the questions asked of Jennings that night and in subsequent
interviews was whether he had seen anyone leaving the scene immediately
following the shooting, either by foot or by car. Jennings, who had encountered
Victoria Richardson approximately 15 minutes after the shooting and in an area
relatively detached from the crime scene, reported ?No.? He did not connect Richardson as fleeing the
scene or as having been a possible witness to the crime. This ?neglecting to
report? by Jennings
would become a central part of the prosecution?s case against him.
days, weeks, months and years following the murder, detectives interviewed Jennings many times and
developed many hours of interviews. Jennings
always submitted voluntarily to their interviews, never exercised his Fifth
Amendment rights, and even submitted voluntarily to a polygraph (which
detectives say he failed but which has never been independently verified).
couple of days after the crime, Detective Longshore approached Jennings while he was on duty at the
told Lonshore that, a day earlier, he had reported a suspicious vehicle to All
Valley Security dispatch and that a deputy and come out and said he would
?check it out.? Jennings
said that two men in a red pickup truck had approached him and asked if he was
the guard on duty at the time of the O?Keefe shooting. Jennings said the encounter made him fear for
Detectives would later dispute Jennings? statement that he had
reported this encounter, saying there was no record of a report with the
Sheriff?s Department, but there is evidence that a report was made.
their initial interviews, detectives took a ?brothers in arms? approach with Jennings, asking him to
recount his story and also to ?speculate? as to certain aspects of the crime.
He responded that because of the way O?Keefe was dressed, he believed she was
engaged in prostitution and that the crime was likely a sexual assault gone
wrong. They asked him to speculate as to the order of the shots to which he
responded that he believed the chest shot to be the first (because of the heavy
stippling). During one interview at Jennings?
home, detectives asked if he owned a handgun. Jennings produced a .380 caliber Lorcin that
he said was his personal handgun, but which of course, was a different caliber
than the murder weapon.
days after the shooting, detectives requested the uniform Jennings was wearing the night of the crime
from All Valley Security. They submitted the uniform for forensic testing. No
trace of blood or gunshot residue was found on any of the clothing.
weeks after the crime, 17-year old Victoria Richardson was picked up on a drug
charge. Possibly to gain favorable treatment, she offered information regarding
the O?Keefe murder. In her statement, Richardson
claimed that she and three other people, (her godson, her friend, and friend?s
boyfriend), were parked at Position G, ?partying.? Position G is approximately
107 feet from the crime scene. She claimed they were smoking marijuana (a psychoactive
drug which has time-altering effects) and listening to music. She claimed that
at one point, they heard a sound like someone trying to pry her car door open
and thought someone was trying to ?break in? to her vehicle, but they did not
see anyone. She says that sometime later, she saw in her rear view mirror, a
security guard walk past her car. Approximately 2 minutes thereafter, they
heard a car alarm and a ?tapping? noise. She then recalled seeing (presumably
again, in the rear view mirror), a black ?97 or ?98 Toyota Corolla or Tercel
2-door vehicle with a spoiler and tinted windows approach from behind and
depart along Path H. She said the car was driven by a white male wearing a
white t-shirt and red ball cap turned to the side.
The incredible amount of detail in her account is extraordinary
given that she would have only been able to see ?headlights? from a vehicle
(the black Toyota) approaching her vehicle from the rear (Path H), and would
have only gotten, at best, a fleeting glance as the vehicle turned east and
drove out of view. Contrast that with her inability to see someone breaking
into the very car she was occupying and her account is totally unbelievable.
?4 minutes? after seeing the Toyota, Richardson noticed in her
rear view mirror, a security car with flashing lights driving past. At that
point, she decided to leave and drove around the crime scene and observed
O?Keefe ?slumped over the steering wheel? and then proceeded east to Position L
where she encountered Jennings,
107 feet away at Position M.
Here again, Richardson?s account
does not match the facts: Malone?s security vehicle never drove past Richardson?s position and
O?Keefe?s body was never slumped over the steering wheel.
the statement by Richardson, detectives
confronted Jennings who confirmed Richardson?s account of encountering Jennings after supervisor Malone had arrived
at the crime scene. During this interview, Jennings also told detectives that when he
first saw O?Keefe, she was ?twitching,? something he had not mentioned in
previous interviews. He also said that he had ?seen death? before, recounting
how he had seen a soldier killed by machine gun fire in a training accident,
and of having seen a drill sergeant die in a grenade mishap. Investigators would
later determine these incidents were fabricated by Jennings.
By his account, Jennings
was trying to impress the investigators and made up stories and offered
theories as a way to impress them.
then asked Jennings to participate in a day-long
?cognitive? interview, to which Jennings
readily agreed. That interview occurred on April 7, 2000. Among statements made
were that he noticed five gunshot wounds to O?Keefe?s person when in fact,
there were only four. He mistakenly identified the blunt force trauma wound to
her forehead as a gunshot wound. He also said he had seen ?brain matter? behind
her head, which was not possible since no such tissue was found exterior to her
wounds. At this time, detectives informed Jennings
that he was a suspect in the case.
6 months after the murder of their daughter, O?Keefe?s parents filed a civil
suit against Jennings
in hopes of developing further evidence. That case was eventually dropped, but
parts of his taped deposition were used against him in the criminal trials.
detectives did present their findings to District Attorney, Robert Foltz, who
did not believe there was enough evidence to charge Jennings with crime. Then, in December, 2005,
without the development of new evidence, at the urging of O?Keefe?s family and
their attorney, R. Rex Parris, D.A. Foltz, filed a single count information
with the murder of O?Keefe; he was arrested and held over for trial.
Jennings has been through three criminal trials and one appeal. His counsel for
the first three trials was court appointed attorney, David Houchin. On appeal, Jennings was represented
by court appointed attorney, Stephen Temko.
first two trials, Houchin moved for a change of venue from the small community
of Antelope Valley due to years of heavy press
coverage about the case. While the motions were denied, the first two trials
were each moved to Los Angeles
for ?administrative reasons.? In his first trial in 2008, the jury hung 9-to-3
in favor of guilt. The jury in second trial in 2009 hung 11-to-1 in favor of
guilt. After the verdict was announced in the second trial, prosecutors announced
they would retry Jennings.
The judge at that point admonished the prosecutor that the third trial, no
matter what the outcome, would be the last.
third trial, in November and December 2009, the D.A. was successful in
returning the venue to Antelope
Valley. The prosecution,
aided by the victim?s family and their attorney, presented a mosaic in the form
of a PowerPoint presentation consisting of improbable and conflicting
statements given by Jennings
and statements which, the prosecution contended, only the perpetrator would
also introduced the testimony of Victoria Richardson. In addition, prosecutors
called forensic behavioral consultant, Mark Safarik, who testified that it was
his opinion that the crime was a sexually motivated encounter which went bad;
this, based on the fact that when found, O?Keefe?s tube top was partially
pulled down. He also concluded that because a security guard was on duty, it
was highly unlikely that any other offender would commit such a crime. His assumption
of ?sexual assault? necessarily profiled the killer as a ?male? and was
structured so as to preclude anyone but the defendant as the perpetrator.
prosecutor also called a ?firearms expert? who testified that the placement of
shots (first to the torso and then to the head) was indicative of someone with
military training as was the use of hollow point and full-metal-jacket
ammunition. Both of these assertions are patently false (further explained in
the Discussion, p. 12-13) but were not challenged by defense counsel.
18th 2009, after having been in trial since before Thanksgiving and after 13
days of deliberation, the jury informed the judge that they had not reached a
verdict and asked the judge if each of the stipulated conditions had to be met
in order to find Jennings
guilty of 1st degree murder. At that time, the judge instructed the jury to
deliberate on a 2nd degree murder charge. Christmas was only seven days away
and jurors had missed much of what would have been holiday preparations. It
is easy to see how they may have been anxious to reached some kind of verdict.
About three hours after receiving the instructions, the jury returned a
?guilty? verdict for Second Degree Murder and the unlawful use of a firearm enhancement.
sentenced to 40 years to life.
2011, Jennings? appeal was argued # before the Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Eight.
The judgment of the lower court was affirmed.#
appellant cited three grounds for appeal:
Insufficiency of evidence, citing as precedent:
People v. Blakeslee (1969) 2 Cal.App.3d 831 (Blakeslee).
Objection to the testimony of forensic
behavioralist consultant, Mark Safarik.
Counsel, citing defense counsel?s failure to object to the entirety of
People v. Blakeslee: The Blakeslee case
referred to a case where a girl was convicted of killing her mother, but the
evidence was purely circumstantial and no physical evidence linked her to the
crime. The guilty verdict was overturned on appeal when it was demonstrated
that another person (namely the defendant?s brother) had equal opportunity to
commit the crime. In the Jennings
appeal, the court found Blakeslee to be ?not particularly helpful? since, in
the court?s opinion, the circumstantial evidence against appellant was ??of
sufficient strength that a rational jury could conclude beyond a reasonable
doubt that appellant murdered Michelle O'Keefe.?
of Mark Safarik: Safarik was called by the prosecution to testify as to his
opinion on how and why the crime occurred. And even though in the first trial,
appellant moved to bar experts ?from offering speculative testimony regarding
the type of crime committed or intended,? defense counsel did not object to
this type of testimony in the second and third trials. The court ruled that
since appellant did not object to the testimony of Safarik in the final trial,
appellant could not then object on appeal (People v. Ward (2005), 36 Cal. 4th 186, 211). The
appellate court went on to say, ??even if the (lower) court erred in allowing
Safarik to testify, the error was not prejudicial.?
Ineffective Counsel: The court?s
decision does not directly address the issue of ?ineffective counsel,? cited by
appellant. However, in a footnote found in the decision, the court acknowledged
that Houchin failed to object to Safarik?s testimony in the final trial.
finding that a ?sufficiency of evidence? existed such that a rational jury
could reasonably convict Raymond Jennings, the appellate court cited the
following eight points of evidence presented by the prosecution:
The implausibility that Jennings did not see
- The prosecution argued that the
assailant would have been walking in a full upright position, along side
the vehicle for several feet, firing into the vehicle four times, striking
O?Keefe with precision on each shot. In fact, in a reenactment, the
prosecution used an average height male walking upright alongside the
rolling vehicle and firing into the vehicle. The re-enactment was not
shown at trial, but Detective Longshore was allowed to give a description
of the re-enactment. The prosecution insisted that Jennings would have had to see the
shooter from his vantage point.
- The prosecution's own case
stipulated that the shooting occurred in a dark area of the parking lot,
but still, argued that there is no way Jennings would not see the shooter
from 400 feet away if he was only a witness.
- Jennings was near-sighted and was not
wearing his glasses when the incident occurred. Mr. Houchin did not
request nor present Jennings? military
medical records which would have supported Jennings? need to wear glasses.
- Jennings always maintained that there
was a parked van partially blocking his view. He also maintained that his
glances toward the Mustang were momentary as the incident unfolded.
- Jennings also maintained that he did
not see the Mustang rolling backward until ?after? the shots were fired.
- View photos from Jennings' and
Victoria Richardson's positions here: You decide
repeatedly told investigators that he saw no one leaving the parking lot after
the shooting but was contradicted by Victoria Richardson?s statement. (This
indicated a deliberate attempt by Jennings to
keep investigators from knowing about Richardson).
- As mentioned earlier, Jennings did not associate his encounter with Richardson, (a full
15 minutes after the crime, located away from the crime scene but in the
relative presence of his supervisor), with seeing someone ?leave the scene?
of the crime. He always understood the questions of whether he had seen
anyone leaving the scene to mean, ?Immediately,? as in ?Fleeing? the
- Supervisor Malone told
investigators on the night of the crime that she saw a vehicle leave the
area. But even though Jennings
told investigators he did not see anyone leaving the scene, they did not
press him as to the discrepancy between his statement and Malone?s. If
they had done so (arguably, something any good investigator would have
would have likely told them about the encounter.
- There is simply no evidence
that Jennings deliberately withheld
information and the assertion that Jennings
tried to hide this encounter from detectives amounts to pure conjecture on
the part of the prosecutor.
stayed next to his car and refused to accompany supervisor Malone to the crime,
supposedly concerned for his safety, yet did walk to the crime scene when
summoned by Malone after she surveyed the scene.
- Not only was Jennings concerned about his own safety,
he was concerned about the safety of Iris Malone and urged her, not once,
but twice, not to proceed to the Mustang until police arrived.
- By the time Jennings did finally walk to the crime
scene, it had been secure for about 5 minutes by Malone whose vehicle had
a spotlight and flashing lights turned on.
created a fictitious encounter in which, a few nights after the shooting, two
men in a pick-up truck approached him and asked if he was the guard on duty at
the time of shooting. Jennings
said he felt threatened and that he reported the incident to police, but there
is no record of this call.
- Jennings reported the encounter
to All Valley Security dispatch, not to police.
- Detectives claimed there was no
record of a deputy taking a report on this incident, however, during the
second trial, Jennings? defense produced a
parking enforcement officer who testified to having seen a ?Hot Sheet? at
the Sheriff?s Department that described the vehicle reported by Jennings as relating
to the O?Keefe murder. The D.A. tried to suppress this evidence but was
- Inexplicably, the officer was
not called by the defense during the third trial (in which Jennings was
convicted). When Jennings
asked Mr. Houchin why she was not testifying, he was told, ?We don?t need
reported to have seen a ?faint pulse? in the victim?s neck and saw her hand
?twitch? when he arrived at the crime scene 10 to 15 minutes after the
shooting. A prosecution expert witness testified that all outward signs of life
would have ceased within five minutes of the last shot; therefore, prosecutors
concluded, Jennings must have been at the scene when the shooting occurred
(i.e. Jennings was the killer).
- Jennings would later admit that this statement
was a fabrication. During questioning, Jennings, trying to impress law
enforcement officers, told not only this story, but also stories about how
he had seen a soldier die in a training accident and a drill sergeant
killed by a grenade; both stories that Jennings later admitted were lies.
Curiously however, while prosecutors were quick to point out the fact that
lied about the military training accidents, they asserted that the
statement about seeing O?Keefe?s pulse and hand twitch was the truth.
- It is entirely possible that
after sustaining two shots to her head and one to her neck, O?Keefe never
moved again. The prosecution cannot say with certainty that O?Keefe
displayed any outward signs of life for any amount of time after the final
shot. Without that certainty, they can not say that even the killer ever
saw signs of life in the victim following the shooting.
- When this statement is examined
together with the totality of all statements Jennings
made, it is likely that Jennings
was embellishing what he saw in order to create an air of camaraderie with
Even though he normally carried a flashlight, Jennings did not have his
flashlight when he arrived at the crime scene. Prosecutors asserted that Jennings had used the flashlight
to inflict the blunt force trauma wound to O?Keefe?s head, and then hid the
flashlight before supervisor Malone arrived.
- The argument here by
prosecutors is essentially, because a witnesses to the crime did not have
a weapon in his hand when police arrived, the witness must be guilty of
assaulting the victim and hiding the weapon.
- The Three-Armed Assailant
This is an incredible piece of conjecture that nearly defies logic.
Prosecutors contend that the crime was committed by a person who, in a
single, momentary encounter:
- Assaulted the victim with a
flashlight blow to the head.
- Sexually assaulted the victim
by pulling her tube top down.
- Methodically shot the victim
(with precision shots from an upright position, through a partially open
- If this version of events was
true, the assailant would have had a flashlight in one hand, a gun in
another hand, and been able to pull at her tube top and steal her phone
with yet ?another? hand.
- Mr. Jennings? flashlight was in
his car on the night of the crime and in it was not until 2007 that the
flashlight was confiscated by investigators and subjected to forensic
testing. No evidence was found on the flashlight.
- Last, and most importantly, the
medical examiner testified that the flashlight did not match the head
wound and that the wound was more consistent with the barrel of a gun.
Incredibly however, prosecutors still pointed to the ?missing flashlight?
as further evidence of Jennings?
guilt and this ?evidence? was cited by the appeals court in supporting
knew details about the murder that only the killer would know:
- a. Jennings
knew the time O?Keefe arrived at the parking lot upon her return from Los Angeles.
- Jennings originally stated that he did
not see O?Keefe and Peterson arrive and did not know what time they
arrived. He was first told about the arrival time (9:22 to 9:23 p.m.) by
detectives Longshore and Harris during the first interview at his home.
- b. He knew that one gun fired
all the shots.
- Seeing shell casings at the
scene, all of the apparent same caliber, Jennings assumed there was one gun used
(a reasonable assumption that anyone familiar with firearms would make).
He never offered that he knew this for a fact.
- c. He knew the murder weapon?s
- Jennings initial comments at the scene
were that the shell casings appeared to be ?.38 caliber or 9mm.? Later, at
the scene, when Jennings asked Deputy Cox what caliber of weapon he
thought was used, Cox replied, ?9 millimeter.?
- In other words, Jennings did not
know the caliber of the murder weapon.
- d. He correctly identified a
gouge in the asphalt near the Mustang as caused by an errant, perhaps
unplanned, misfire by the shooter before the shooter took aim at O?Keefe.
- There is no evidence to show
why the shooter fired into the ground. It may have been an intentional
warning shot. Detectives, like Jennings,
can only speculate as to why. This does not constitute ?inside knowledge?
on the part of detectives or of Jennings.
- Jennings initial comment at the scene
was that it appeared the gunman had fired into the ground. He had no
special knowledge? as to why.
- When asked by detectives to
offered that it was probably an accidental shot, which happened to match
what detectives believed.
- e. He accurately described the
sequence of bullets as later established by the autopsy.
- Jennings was asked by detectives to
speculate on the order of the shots. While Jennings did say that he thought the
shot to the chest was the first shot, he also mistakenly identified the
blunt force trauma wound to O?Keefe?s forehead as a gunshot wound.
- Jennings? misinterpretation about the
nature of O?Keefe?s wounds demonstrates clearly that he had no ?inside
- f. He knew O?Keefe had not been
- Jennings did not know this. In a police
interview, when asked to speculate as to the nature of the crime, Jennings
said that because of the way she was dressed and the fact that her tube
top was askew, he thought it may have been a sexual assault gone bad. Any
possessed as to whether there had been a rape was only gained long after
the news media had aired and published many stories about the crime.
The shooter displayed a special, skilled
marksmanship as the kind Army National Guard soldiers are taught. Specifically,
members of the military are taught to shoot first at a target?s upper body
because it offers a large surface area to hit. If shots to the upper body do
not incapacitate the target, members of the military are taught to shoot at the
target?s head. (This testimony was offered by a ?firearms expert? called by the
- The United States Army instructs
everything in accordance with Field and Technical Manuals. Army Field
Manuals 23-9 (M16) and 23-35 (M9 handgun) instructed soldiers to engage
targets at ?center mass? of the torso. There is no documented instance
that we can find where the Army ever taught soldiers to shoot first at
the torso and then at the head.
- Ray Jennings was
trained in the Army on the 9 millimeter handgun, but has affirmed to me
that he was taught "by the book," to aim at Center
Mass. Mr. Houchin did not request
Jennings? military training records which would have supported this fact
- This testimony by Officer
Michael Winter, a so-called firearms expert with the LA County Sheriff's
Department is not only extremely prejudicial, it is factually wrong, could
have been easily contradicted, and should have been strongly objected to,
challenged and rebutted by the defense. Mr. Houchin did not
challenge or refute this testimony nor offer expert testimony in support
of the defendant.
the type and sequence of bullets used showed sophistication involving firearms.
The shooter used two types of bullets: The first two, the first of which was
apparently misfired into the ground and the second into O?Keefe?s chest, were
hollow point bullets, which flare out upon impact to cause greater
incapacitating trauma; the last three, which were aimed at O?Keefe?s head, were
full metal jacket bullets. For someone experienced with guns through military
training, the sequence of two hollow point shots, one of which was aimed at
O?Keefe?s chest, followed by three full metal jacket shots to her head, was not
by chance. (This testimony was offered by the same ?firearms expert? called by
- Until 2010, the use of
hollow-point ammunition was expressly prohibited by the United States
Army. In the year 2000, Army training did not include the use of hollow
- There is evidence to suggest a
more credible expert would disagree with the state's expert. The opinion
of a nationally recognized criminal profiler directly disputes the opinion
of the prosecution witness that the shooter was highly skilled and
deliberate. In a 2006 episode of Body of Evidence, titled ?Deadly
Delivery,? a pizza delivery man was killed by both hollow point and
full-metal jacket bullets fired from the same gun. Retired FBI profiler,
Dayle Hinman, said the use of both hollow point and full-metal jacket
bullets in one shooting would indicate a ?youthful offender? or someone
who gets their ammunition ?wherever they can find it.? When the killer was
finally identified, her assessment proved correct.
- This testimony, also given by
Michael Winter is extremely prejudicial and is factually wrong. It could
have been easily contradicted. It should have been strongly objected
to, challenged and rebutted by the defense. Mr. Houchin did not challenge
or refute this testimony nor offer expert testimony in support of the defendant.
discussion of evidence presented against Raymond Jennings, it is clear that not
only is there no evidence linking him to the crime, the circumstantial evidence
amounted to prejudicial conjecture that in many cases was false and in others,
severely strains credibility.
absolutely no evidence of sexual assault. The fact that O?Keefe?s tube top was
pulled partially down could have easily indicated a struggle with someone
trying to grab her cell phone from her. This scenario could also, very likely
account for the blood under O?Keefe?s fingernails and would definitely account
for her missing cell phone.
of Mark Safarik: Safarik concluded, primarily on the evidence that O?Keefe?s tube
top was askew, that sexual assault was the likely motive. He further concluded
that since there was an (unarmed) security guard on duty (Jennings), it was unlikely another (armed)
person would commit such a crime.
though Jennings? foot patrol took him at times nearly a quarter-mile from the
crime scene, and even though there were plenty of dark perimeter areas for an
offender to lie in wait (such as the location of O?Keefe?s attack), and even
though the attacker was armed where the security guard was unarmed, Mr. Safarik
still ruled out the likelihood that anyone but the security guard committing
testimony amounted to an opinion that relied on no special insight that would
be expected from an ?expert,? and was highly prejudicial.
of Victoria Richardson: Richardson?s
account of events defies logic. With four people sitting in the car, it is
incredible to believe that they ?heard someone trying to pry their car door
open, yet none saw anyone. Further, Richardson gave an extremely detailed
description of the black Toyota and driver leaving the scene, even though,
looking in her rear view mirror, she would have only seen headlights and then
possibly a fleeting glance as the driver turned and drove eastward. And sitting
only about 30 yards from a moving assault, complete with a car alarm, gunfire,
and a rolling vehicle, the only thing she recalled was hearing a car alarm and
?tapping? sound. In fact, her description of seeing this Toyota
drive right through the crime scene, past a bloody O?Keefe in the Mustang,
without stopping is so implausible that it seems as if she was the one trying
to mislead detectives, not Jennings.
of seeing a security guard walk past ?2 minutes? before hearing the tapping
noise is also suspect given that she said the security car arrived ?4 minutes?
later. Evidence shows that it was over 10 minutes from the time of the shooting
until supervisor Malone arrived at the Mustang.
Richardson also said that she
looked in her rear view mirror and saw a security car with flashing lights go
by. That would have taken the security car along Route H, on the map, which
contradicts other testimony that supervisor Malone drove along Path K, never
interesting also, that when she was leaving the Park-N-Ride, Richardson
from 107 feet away, the same distance she had been from the crime. She
obviously felt comfortable asking a question from that distance, but only
moments earlier, she was unable to hear gunshots from the same distance.
what were Richardson and her associates doing in the Park-N-Ride that night? richardson was a known
drug user and her testimony should have been suspect from the beginning, not
only by the defense, but by detectives. Did the detectives ever investigate
Richardson and her associates? was the DNA profile ever checked against her
male associates? also, I am not aware of any acoustic tests having ever been
done to verify whether or not she would have heard the gunshots but this
certainly should have been demanded by the defense.
would be convicted of felony cocaine trafficking in a separate case and
sentenced to prison. Considering Richardson?s proximity to the crime scene, her implausible
testimony, her likely invention of a fake vehicle (the black Toyota),
and her involvement in drugs, she and her associates would seem much more
likely suspects than Jennings.
In January 2015, Richardson was arrested by San Bernardino sheriffs
in a yet another case and charged attempted murder, assault with a deadly
weapon and domestic violence. Since she violated parole, she was transferred to
the state Women's Facility in September 2015 where she is awaiting trial.
of Jennings: In 2005, the parents of
Michelle O?Keefe with the assistance of their attorney, R. Rex Parris and his
associate, private investigator Jim Jeffra, assembled a collage of sound-bites
compiled in a PowerPoint presentation. This mosaic of sound-bites included
several false, implausible or contradictory statements by Jennings taken from the many, many hours of
police interviews with him and the taped deposition he gave in the civil case.
They presented the PowerPoint presentation to D.A. Foltz who, lacking any other
evidence, agreed to file charges against Jennings.
In fact, at the time, Foltz told a reporter: ?I can't put my finger on
precisely what the difference is, but it was clear we had a file-able case.?
the complete body of statements made by Jennings,
possible exculpatory evidence and the presence of other likely suspects, the
D.A. selectively assembled small bits and pieces of statements which when
viewed together made Jennings
appear to be the killer. Where it suited their purposes, they would argue that Jennings was both a liar
(for instance, when he told of seeing soldiers killed in training accidents),
and a truth-teller (for instance, when he said he saw a pulse in O?Keefe?s neck
and her hand twitching). In fact, prosecutor Michael Blake even argued at
trial: ?The evidence in this case will absolutely show that Raymond Lee
Jennings is telling a series of lies to begin to direct attention away from
himself. You?ll see that they?re mixed in with grains of truth. The
problem is, with those grains of truth, they?re also the truths that we know
only the killer would know.? This is a stunning admission by Blake that the
prosecution selectively presented, what he referred to as, ?grains of truth?
from the hours and hours of interviews Jennings
gave to police.
piece, when carefully examined, the evidence against Jennings falls apart. As noted in the
Discussion, most of the circumstantial evidence presented against Jennings
amounted to conjecture and was in some cases, just false: that the incident was
a ?sexual assault;? that Jennings ?knew? things he should not have known; that
there was a deliberate nature to the placement of shots and type of ammunition
used that would be ?characteristic? of someone with military training; that
Jennings knew the time of O?Keefe?s arrival and the fact that she had not been
aspects of this case, rather than point to Jennings? guilt, actually point to his
- Jennings had no criminal history.
- Jennings immediately called ?shots
being fired? to All
Valley dispatch and
did not report knowledge of any victim.
- Blood DNA evidence from the
victim excludes Jennings
as the contributor.
- No scratches or wounds were
found on Jennings.
- No gunpowder residue or blood
spatter was found on his clothing.
- Jennings was never found to be in possession of a 9mm
handgun or 9mm ammunition and was never connected to such a weapon.
- Jennings never refused to give an interview to police
and willingly submitted to a polygraph test.
- Jennings' misidentification of the blunt force trauma
wound as a gunshot wound indicates he had no direct knowledge of how the
consider the scenario presented by prosecutors:
evening of February 22, 2000, Ray Jennings, a family man with no criminal
history, serving honorably in the United States Army, decides that on his
second night as an unarmed security guard, he is going to arm himself with a
9mm handgun (that no one knows he has) in hopes of committing an armed rape.
Within seconds of moving her car to Position B, O?Keefe was accosted by Jennings who, with a gun
in one hand and a flashlight in the other hand, was bent on a sexual assault.
In a momentary encounter, Jennings hits O?Keefe in the head with his
flashlight, grabs at her tube top, shoots her, steals her cell phone and calls
his supervisor to report ?shots being fired.? All the while, Victoria
Richardson and three other people sit only 107 feet away and do not see
claim that she saw nothing was not even questioned, yet Ray Jennings? claim
that he could not see the shooter from 400 feet away and without his glasses
was totally dismissed and refuted by prosecutors.
It is one
of the most bizarre and unbelievable recreations of a crime one can imagine.
?evidence? in this case is far more supportive of a robbery or carjacking
scenario committed by an inexperienced offender as it is of a sexual assault
committed by someone with ?sophisticated? military training. Since
Richardson and her companions were ?partying? in a nearby car, it seems
unlikely that anyone other than someone associated with Richardson?s group would commit such an
assault. In fact, she may well be the key to finally unlocking this tragedy. In
all probability, the events of that night occurred exactly as Jennings reported.
At the very
least, Ray Jennings has been convicted on evidence that should have never been
allowed at trial. At worst, it appears that an innocent man may have spent the
last ten years in prison, a victim of overzealous and unprofessional
prosecution. Frankly, as a citizen of this country and someone who has stood in
defense of our freedom, I am shocked and angered that any judge would let this
type of case proceed.