Three victims’ stories from a bloody month in Los Angeles

By Nicole Santa Cruz | Homicide Report | LA Times
Oct. 3, 2015

homicide South LA summer 2015It was one of the deadliest months in years in Los Angeles. The 39 reported homicides in August were spread across this sprawling city; all but two of the victims were male; all but eight were shot to death.

Desirae Jenkins, 28

When Desirae Jenkins was in high school, her mother was found strangled in their Warren, Ohio, home. Jenkins testified at the trial, and a jury found her father, a basketball coach and pastor, guilty of the killing. Jenkins went on to college and eventually landed in Los Angeles. In recent months, she had gotten a job as a behavior specialist at a children’s clinic.

For her birthday in late July, Jenkins went out to a seafood restaurant with her brother David Jenkins and his pregnant girlfriend. David Jenkins said his sister was excited about being an aunt.

A few days later, on Aug. 3, she was shot to death by a 68-year-old man inside an apartment in Baldwin Hills. The man, whom she was dating, then killed himself.

For the Record

5 p.m., Oct. 3: A previous version of this article misidentified the birthday honoree at the July dinner as David Jenkins’ girlfriend. It was Desirae Jenkins, who was celebrating her 28th birthday.

When detectives searched the apartment, they found clippings of news stories from her mother’s murder trial, which led them to Chris Becker, who prosecuted the case in 2006.

Becker, who has prosecuted more than 100 murder cases in his career, said the family’s case stood out. He had kept in touch with Desirae Jenkins and used her as an example of perseverance when talking to community groups. In a 2011 e-mail that Becker shared, she quoted Vince Lombardi, the successful former Green Bay Packers coach, while talking about her success: “The harder the struggle, the harder it is to surrender.”

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