A man accused of beating a Charleston man to death rejected a plea deal that would have put him away for seven years instead of the potential life sentence he faces if he is convicted of murder.
Robert Lee Wright, 43, of Charleston, is charged with murder in the death of 45-year-old Christopher Thomas Jenkins in 2010.
On Thursday, he officially rejected a deal from the prosecution in which, if he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, he would have received a seven-year sentence.
He declined the offer during an appearance before Circuit Judge Stephanie McDonald in a Charleston courtroom.
There’s no guarantee that the prosecution will make any more offers before a scheduled trial date in October, which could be pushed back.
A jury had taken the case into consideration in the summer of 2011, but jurors couldn’t agree and a hung jury was declared.
Prosecutors said many offers had been made in the years since that trial, and Jenkins’ family has appeared in court several times. “This family has been through the ringer on this one,” 9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Chad Simpson said in court.
Jenkins’ family approved of the plea deal that was on the table, Simpson said in court. Wright was informed that he had to make the decision this week, and he refused the offer.
Jenkins was romantically involved with Wright’s mother, but they broke up before his death, according to Simpson. Jenkins kept contacting Wright’s mother, which was making her and her family uncomfortable, Simpson said in court.
Wright wanted to teach Jenkins a lesson, so he beat Jenkins by hitting and body-slamming him, and he warned him to stay away from his mother, according to prosecutors. Authorities said the beating occurred on Lee Street, south of Aiken Street.
After the alleged beating, Jenkins did not go to the hospital. He was found unresponsive and later died from his injuries at Medical University hospital on June 11, 2010.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.