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Leo Ernest JENKINS Jr.





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: August 29, 1998
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: October 12, 1958
Victims profile: Kara Voss, 20, and her brother and co-worker Mark Kelley, 25
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber pistol)
Location: Harris County, Texas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Texas on February 9, 1996

Leo Jenkins Jr.

Age: 38 (30)
Executed: Feb. 9, 1996
Education level: High school graduate or GED

On Aug. 29, 1988, Jenkins and an accomplice walked into a north Houston pawnshop. Jenkins shot Kara Voss, 20, in the head. Her brother and co-worker Mark Kelley, 25, was shot three times in the face. The two made off with several trays of jewelry but were caught days later. Jenkins' execution was the first viewed by relatives of the victim. His accomplice was sentenced to life.


Texas Executes a Killer of Two as the Victims' Family Watches

The New York Times

February 10, 1996

Leo Jenkins was executed today while relatives of the brother and sister he killed watched from a few feet away, the first time Texas has allowed the survivors of murder victims to witness a lethal injection.

Later, Linda Kelley, the mother of the victims, Mark Kelley and Kara Kelley Voss, spoke to reporters.

"This was not difficult," Mrs. Kelley said for the family. "I'm glad that he's off this earth. I know where Leo Jenkins is right now. And it's really low. And I feel good about that. This is justice in a big way. Believe me, it was served tonight."

Mr. Jenkins and an accomplice, Eugene Hart, were convicted of the murder of Mrs. Voss, 20, and her brother, 25, which occurred in the Kelley family's Golden Nugget Pawn Shop in Houston on the midafternoon of Aug. 29, 1988.

Mr. Jenkins had walked in and told Mrs. Voss that he wanted to buy a rifle, according to trial testimony. Then, he shot her in the head with a .22-caliber pistol. He turned and fired three times at her brother nearby, fatally wounding him, then stole rings, watches and jewelry.

Before the execution Mrs. Kelley told reporters, "I think Leo Jenkins is going to have a very dignified death compared to what he put Mark and Kara through."

Mrs. Kelley attended the execution with her husband, Jim Kelley, her 90-year-old mother-in-law, Angeline Kelley, her remaining child, her daughter, Robin Kelley, and Mark Kelley's widow, Lisa Kelley. Mrs. Kelley said that her son had left two small children. "It's sad when you have to explain to a 5-year-old who asks 'Muma, tell me about my daddy in heaven,' " Mrs. Kelley said.

Six other states, Colorado, Louisiana, California, Washington, Utah and Montana, also allow victims' families to view executions.

Mr. Jenkins was the 105th inmate Texas has put to death since it reinstituted the death penalty in 1982.

Unlike most executions in Texas, this one aroused unusual attention because it was the first time the family of murder victims were allowed to watch an execution. About 60 people gathered outside the prison here, the Huntsville Unit. Most of them were supporters of the death penalty. Some carried signs advocating "victims' rights."

Mr. Jenkins had confessed to the crime and had opposed any appeals of his death sentence, asking to be executed. His only living relative not in prison -- his sister -- did not attend his execution, but a friend, Debbie Cannon, and Mr. Jenkins' lawyers, Kurt Wentz and James Leniter, did.

They were led into the tiny, century-old death chamber only moments after the Kelleys, who stood on the other side of a clear glass partition through which the condemned man could view them.

As he lay strapped to the gurney, Mr. Jenkins told the witnesses that "I'd just like to say I believe in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I'm sorry for the Kelleys' loss but my death is not gonna bring back their children. I think the State of Texas is wrong to execute me. I love my mama. Let's go, man."

His statement did not move Mrs. Kelley. "He's made his peace with God," she said. "I don't think I have. I'm still real angry with God about this. I just hope God doesn't forgive him."

Mr. Jenkins was arrested four days after the murders. Witnesses told the authorities that they had seen a heavily tattooed man leaving the store. Mr. Jenkins had numerous tattoos including two of teardrops beneath his left eye, commemorating two previous prison terms.

He told detectives that he and Mr. Hart, high on cocaine, needed some money to buy more drugs. Mr. Hart, now 39, received a life term.



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