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Saturday, May 01 2010 - 04:34 PM
NBC Dateline: Michelle O'Keefe
Last night NBC Dateline presented a two-hour examination of the O’Keefe murder, “The Girl With the Blue Mustang”, and the (three) trials of Raymond Lee Jennings, ending with a 40 years-to-life sentence.

While it was alternately fascinating and infuriating to see our community held up to a national spotlight, sometimes not favorably, it was also interesting to learn how that national audience responded to the story.

Early this morning, Dateline’s website already had nearly 200 comments on the program from all over the country, most having never heard of the case before. And they provide a weird echo of the same discussions we in this community have been having about this case for a decade.

Like many of us, few had a firm opinion of Jennings’ guilt or innocence based on what they saw. Only a few felt that he was absolutely guilty, only a few that he was absolutely innocent.

But a recurring theme in the comments, whether they thought he was guilty or not, was a question that many of us have asked: How can someone be convicted of murder on entirely circumstantial evidence? No DNA, no forensic evidence, no motive, no murder weapon.

What for ten years has been a community discussion went national last night and is likely to be controversial all over again.

05/01/10 - 05:14 PM
Ray Cunneff says...
The Dateline website also contains a slideshow of photos some of which I hadn’t seen before, one showing bullet slugs, shell casings and blood stains, but “nothing that linked them to a suspect”. You can watch the entire program on the website.
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05/01/10 - 05:18 PM
Antelope Valley Independent says...
Dateline seemed to agree with the jury that it was the two days of depositions that R Rex Parris took that provided all the evidence the jury needed. Dateline did a great job telling the story of how Jennings just couldn’t stop talking.
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05/01/10 - 05:27 PM
newstoday says...
Ray…The AV News took 513 hits on our archived “Jennings” coverage. All three stories received a total of 631 hits. We also received 119 emails from around the country in regards to our coverage. The archived articles are at:

http://www.avnewstodayonline.com/AroundtheValleyMain.html
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05/01/10 - 05:56 PM
Genesis says...
Here’s a link to the Dateline story on Michelle O’Keefe:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/36861960#36861960
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05/01/10 - 06:41 PM
Ray Cunneff says...
I thought Dateline did a very good job piecing the story together and I now better understand how they ultimately got a conviction. And I thought Rex came across very well.

But there is still that nagging doubt that, with the total absence of physical evidence, did they get the right man?

It’s clear that Jennings’ account of what he said happened didn’t add up. But then what version of events does add up? We are left to believe that Jennings was patrolling the parking lot, came upon what he took to be a prostitute, made sexual advances and when she refused fired four shots at point-blank range from a gun he was not supposed to have. But why kill her?

What happened to the weapon? Why no blood spatter on his clothes or powder residue on his hands? Footprints? Fingerprints?

Just as Jennings’ account doesn’t add up, neither does the alternative theory of the case entirely make sense.

My gut feeling is that he’s guilty, but I wish the evidence was more compelling.
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05/02/10 - 02:36 AM
Captain Jason says...
Thank you, Genesis, for posting the link for the story. After reviewing the video, I can understand why the investigators came to the conclusions that they did. I have an utter respect for my friend Jim Jeffra and he performed the investigation with the correct mindset, which I was taught at the academy as well – try to prove the suspect is innocent; if you can’t they probably aren’t. In the end, it was Jim Jeffra’s work that made their case.

However…

One piece of evidence still nags at me though… What about that DNA that did not match Jennings under her fingernail? I want an answer to that question. Without it, a nagging doubt remains for me.
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05/02/10 - 03:47 PM
Sincere says...
Capt Ninja is such an ass. R Rex Parris gets Jennings to do everything but admit he killed her after hours of depositions. Jeffra then comes along and can’t prove he is innocent so he must have done it. So Capt Ninja wants to give the credit to Jeffra, because he would rather die than admit R Rex Parris did anything good. Maybe, Capt Ninja did not see the Channel 3 segment where the jury said it was the depositions R Rex Parris took that convinced them he was guilty.
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05/02/10 - 03:57 PM
Captain Jason says...
Maybe before ‘Sincere’ the plant spouts off with his usual BS, he should watch the Dateline segment that explains how the DA was able to be convinced by the spliced tapes made by Jeffra and the victim’s father. Granted that said tapes included the depositions done by Parris, among other interviews, but it was Jeffra that thought to put it into a format that was convincing enough to the DA to take the case to trial.
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05/02/10 - 04:31 PM
Sincere says...
Now I understand. Jeffra was the powerpoint technician who took the work of R Rex Parris and put it on a powerpoint. So Capt Ninja thinks it was Jeffra’s work that made the case. What an ass.
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05/02/10 - 05:32 PM
Ray Cunneff says...
Actualy, it looks as if Rex’s deposition in the civil case jump-statred the investgation and led to conviction. He’s to be commended. Jeffra should be commended as well. But did they get the right guy?
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05/02/10 - 05:47 PM
Captain Jason says...
The plant is hereby dismissed from further notice as ‘persona non grata.’

Don’t get me wrong, Ray, Parris actually did fairly well for a civil attorney. I was also impressed with how he came across in this story. His work was part of the entire work required for the conviction to ever occur. It was the combined work of the investigators and the taped depositions that Jeffra utilized as a trained and experienced criminal investigator with the time and skill to put it together in the right way for the DA to be able to accept it.

I am still not totally convinced of Jennings guilt, though, until I see something that satisfactorily explains away the DNA under the victim’s fingernails – That still nags at me.
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05/02/10 - 08:23 PM
Ray Cunneff says...
I think many of us feel a nagging uncertainty about Jennings’ guilt. But if not him, then who?
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05/02/10 - 08:35 PM
Ray Cunneff says...
Jeffra tried to prove Jennings’ innocence and could not. His story did not add up. But does that make him guilty? Is that enough to say with certainty that he’s a murderer? He’s a jerk, no doubt about it. He tried to make himself important to the case by playing “Sherlock Holmes” and knowing more than he should have. But is that enough for a conviction?

The DNA from an unknown (male) source should have been enough for reasonable doubt. Did every one’s desire for justice blind us?

I’ve never been satisfied that Jennings is guilty. But the lack of any other suspects makes it very difficult to defend him.
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05/03/10 - 12:22 AM
Captain Jason says...
That’s pretty much where I am at, too, Ray.
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05/03/10 - 12:28 AM
whomeye says...
I watched the majority of the videos and now I understand why they went after him. For years, I had my doubts because my spouse van pooled from there so I know that parking lot. I felt that there could have been someone who could have left one of the few exits immediately before Jennings was able to spot him/them/her. After seeing the video, I’ve heard pretty much the entire story which was held back from the public for so many years.

His story was very shaky.
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05/03/10 - 04:13 PM
A V Observer says...
It is too bad this Dateline episode did not run 3 weeks earlier. R Rex would have won by 4,000 votes instead of 3,000.
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