Death Row Inmate Seeks a New Trial in LAPD Detective’s Slaying
A man on death row for gunning down an LAPD detective in 1985 in front of the policeman’s 6-year-old son has asked for a new trial, alleging that police and prosecutors concocted evidence and steered witness testimony in his first trial.
The petition was filed Friday on behalf of Daniel S. Jenkins, 48, who was convicted of killing Det. Thomas C. Williams in retaliation for the lawman’s testimony against him in an armed robbery and assault trial. Two other men, whom Jenkins offered to pay $10,000 to kill Williams, were also convicted for their involvement in the murder.
Defense attorney Michael Snedeker said prosecutors sought what he described as the suspect testimony of two informants, including a convicted murderer, and went to “outrageous” lengths to get them to incriminate Jenkins.
“I think they had a good-faith belief that Daniel Jenkins was the perpetrator of the crime, but they were so incensed” over the detective’s murder “that they trampled over due process in order to get him,” Snedeker said. “I don’t know, and I don’t think anybody knows, exactly what happened. But there’s no question that, during the trial, the prosecution’s misconduct was outrageous.”
Among the allegations in the filing was that Jeffrey Bryant, a key witness against Jenkins, was plied with alcohol and drugs while incarcerated in return for fabricated testimony against Jenkins. Bryant has since recanted, Snedeker said.
The attorney also questioned the credibility of Arvie Carroll, a convicted murderer, who testified that, while he was in prison, Jenkins related in gruesome detail how the detective’s body writhed as he was shot.
Williams, 42, was killed on Halloween 1985 as he picked up his son Ryan from a Canoga Park day-care center, just hours after testifying against Jenkins.
As the boy watched, Jenkins riddled the detective’s body with eight bullets from a fully automatic Mac-10 pistol, authorities said.
“The petition ... is just another cynical deception being attempted by a despicable and remorseless felon,” said Bob Baker, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “Daniel Jenkins deserves the death sentence he received when he was fairly convicted in August 1989 of first-degree murder.”
A district attorney’s office spokeswoman said she could not comment on the petition.
Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for the state Department of Justice, said his office had not had a chance to review Jenkins’ petition.
The detective’s widow, Norma Williams, 59, of West Hills said she thought the allegations were an attempt by the defense to “muddy the waters with frivolous issues.”
“But I am concerned, and I will not deny it,” she said.
The widow described Jenkins as an arrogant killer who had threatened her family and others even before her husband’s slaying and who would not hesitate to kill again if released. Williams said her husband’s slaying left an indelible trauma on her children.
“We were both in our prime when this happened,” she said. “He made himself so available to the children. He really was a remarkable man.”