Man Gets Prison On Dui Charge Ronald Leon Jenkins Was Given A Stiff Penalty Because Of A Previous Conviction. Last Time, 3 People Were Killed.

Posted: January 28, 1998

It wasn't the first time Ronald Leon Jenkins was in Montgomery County Court charged with drunken driving, though this time no one had died.

Fourteen years ago, he was convicted of vehicular homicide while intoxicated in the deaths of three passengers in a car he was driving. A jury found he was drunk when he slammed into a utility pole. He was sentenced to 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison; he served four.

Jenkins was back in court yesterday, charged with driving at more than twice the legal alcohol limit when he ran into another car last June in the Belmont Hills section of Lower Merion Township. This time, no one was injured.

But that did not stop Common Pleas Court Judge William T. Nicholas, who also presided over Jenkins' 1984 trial, from sending him to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility for the next nine to 23 months.

``In light of Mr. Jenkins' past experience,'' the judge said, the sentence ``must demonstrate to him that this type of crime will not be tolerated.''

Jenkins, 42, of Philadelphia, is a convicted rapist who escaped from a Georgia prison in the 1970s, only to be recaptured. He has spent 15 of the last 25 years in jail.

Jenkins pleaded guilty to the DUI charge yesterday. He did not speak, but his attorney, William D. Moyer Jr., said, ``Mr. Jenkins is apparently in some form of denial'' over his alcohol problem.

``He hit a low point in his life,'' Moyer told the judge, when a lawyer bilked him for thousands of dollars in a workers' compensation case, which eventually cost him his house.

``He obviously wasn't strong enough,'' Moyer added.

But Assistant District Attorney Wendy Demchick-Alloy told the judge, ``The twist in this picture is that the defendant comes to you with significant and severe baggage.''

In the drunken-driving accident that killed three people, Jenkins denied that he was driving, she said. And, argued Demchick-Alloy, ``in this case, he has minimized his drinking behavior. He adamantly denies the accident was his fault . . .

``I don't see signs of remorse. . . . Three human beings' lives were lost and that did not deter his drinking and driving,'' she said.

Though the prosecutor originally asked that Jenkins receive the maximum sentence of one to two years in prison, the minimum (and typical) DUI sentence is 48 hours in jail, provided the defendant has not been arrested for DUI for seven years.

Since fourteen years has transpired since Jenkins was arrested for DUI, Alloy called the nine-to-23-month sentence a good one. Nicholas also ordered Jenkins to enroll in anger-management and alcohol-treatment programs as part of probation following his release from jail.

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