Jessie Nelson was found guilty on all four felony charges against him on Thursday evening by a Buchanan County jury: first degree-murder, first-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action.
The trial of Nelson, the man accused of shooting Mack Jenkins and Deon Hernandez last August, came to and end on Thursday night after a jury returned with a guilty verdict after around two hours of deliberation.
Kenisha Jenkins, the sister of Mack Jenkins, said she was relieved that a guilty verdict was returned.
“I just got off the phone with my mom; she’s praising God and we’re all praising,” Jenkins said. “We can all go to sleep a little easier tonight knowing that we got some type of justice today. We feel good.”
Nelson shot Hernandez and Jenkins on Aug. 6, 2018, near the corner of 10th and Henry streets, killing Mack Jenkins and paralyzing Hernandez.
The jury saw evidence and heard testimony for two and a half days, with Prosecutor Ron Holliday laying out the events he believed occurred on the day of the shooting, while Nelson’s defense attorney, Shayla Marshall, argued that her client was falsely accused.
In the end, the jury sided with Holliday and the evidence they had seen and heard. One piece of evidence was an eyewitness to the crime, Matthew Glidewell. Kenisha Jenkins said she was not aware that someone had witnessed her brother’s death until the trial.
“The main thing was that evidence of the guy who had actually seen the shooting, and took the picture of his car right next to Deon Hernandez and Mack Jenkins, when they had crashed into the other vehicles,” Jenkins said. “I thank him. I don’t know his name, but I really thank you.”
Kenisha Jenkins said that though Nelson now will likely be serving time for the death of her brother, the mark he has left on their family will last for the rest of their lives.
“We got justice, but Deon is paralyzed,” Jenkins said. “He doesn’t get to pick up his kids. He doesn’t get to walk around. And my family is paralyzed because we don’t get to see my brother at holidays or for his birthday or just for any reason. We don’t get to physically see him and touch him anymore.”
Kenisha Jenkins and her family, along with Hernandez’s family, gathered outside the courthouse following the verdict, hugging, crying and sharing the news. Though they had lost a brother and seen another injured for life, they said they were still a family.
“We’ve been a family before this tragedy happened, and we’re going to be a family still to the end of time — know this,” Jenkins said. “I love everyone that’s standing around us right now and everyone that didn’t make it here. I have other family members. He may have other family members that didn’t make it, but we’re happy. We’re still a big family.”
Nelson is set to be sentenced on Jan. 27, 2019, at 3 p.m. According to Missouri statute 565.020, a conviction of first-degree murder can only be punished with the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole.
Holliday did not file any motions to pursue the death penalty prior to the trial, so the only punishment available is life without the possibility of parole.