- The Enterprise
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The father of a man struck and killed at a St. Mary’s raceway two years ago and a prosecutor who handled an ensuing trial are objecting to the state parole commission’s decision to send home a jail inmate convicted of vehicular manslaughter in the case.
Jarron Alonzo Jennings, now 22, was sentenced in August to 10 years in prison, suspended to 18 months in the St. Mary’s jail. Jennings’ lawyer filed a motion later that month asking that his client be released from jail for emergency knee surgery, and then be placed on home detention.
The prosecutor countered that there was insufficient evidence to support the request and that the slain man’s family had a right to be present at any hearing on the matter. The trial judge denied the defense lawyer’s request.
The county’s circuit court was notified earlier this month by a home monitoring service that as of Oct. 26, Jennings had begun five months of home detention, a decision that the prosecutor said this week was made during a parole commission hearing at the county jail where neither she nor the victim’s family had an opportunity to attend or participate.
St. Mary’s Assistant State’s Attorney Jaymi Sterling said Wednesday at her office in the county courthouse that Jennings needed to stay in jail at least through most of December before he was even eligible for parole consideration, and that she is seeking assistance from the state attorney general’s office to respond to the Oct. 19 decision, although that likely will not put Jennings back in jail.
“The parole commission made their decision, without contacting our office or the family. We were excluded from all of this,” Sterling said.
David Blumberg, the chairman of the parole commission, said the commission previously has received victim notification information in criminal cases from St. Mary’s, as in other jurisdictions, through the state’s attorney’s office or a defendant’s commitment record, but not in Jennings’ case.
“We were never given any victim notification [information] from the court or the state’s attorney’s office,” Blumberg said.
The slain man’s mother and father both filed victim notification requests with the court after Jennings was indicted last year, and pink carbon copies generally forwarded to the jail with the commitment record are no longer in the case file. The commitment record does not list the notification requests as being attached to the record, however, and sheriff’s Capt. Michael Merican, the commander of the detention center, said Thursday that the jail never received the pink copies of the notification requests.
Blumberg said that the decision to parole Jennings, and put him on home detention, followed the determination that “he had a totally torn ACL [in his leg], from the reports we received from the detention center.”
St. Mary’s grand jurors indicted Jennings, a resident of Prince George’s County’s Glen Dale community, after Maryland State Police determined that he was leaving Maryland International Raceway on the night of Oct. 22, 2010, when the 2001 Chevrolet Impala he was driving struck 20-year-old Richard Arland Jackson of Bowie. Jackson had gotten out of his car while leaving the race track, police report, possibly because of problems with his vehicle.
Gary Scales, Jackson’s father, said Thursday that neither the parole commission nor jail staff have explained why he was not notified before the commission’s hearing that sent Jennings home.
“They’re saying that there’s nothing that they can do. They don’t want to revisit it,” Scales said. “We were notified after the guy was released. That was all the contact I got. It’s ridiculous that we were not involved.”
Sterling said Thursday that the jail’s staff had sought Jennings’ release to avoid the county paying for his surgery, and that the jail’s calls to Jackson’s parents after the commission’s decision showed that the facility had their phone numbers.