Jury to decide pastor’s fate in attempted murder case

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lori DiGiosia told the jury during closing statements Wednesday in Stafford County Circuit court that the attorneys defending Dale City pastor Carl Jenkins built their case of smoke and mirrors.

Jenkins was charged with thee counts of attempted capital murder and attempted arson after he allegedly tried to set fire to the house of his former secretary and lover, Sandra Cager, at 300 Shelton Drive after she threatened to end the affair.

“This is not a ‘whodunit,'” DiGiosia told the jury of six men and six women.

“The fact is this man who calls himself the pastor, leader, bishop of the Dale City Christian Church, set out to burn down the house of his ex-lover,” DiGiosia said.

DiGiosia reminded the jury that a witness saw Jenkins walking near the scene of the crime on March 2 between 2:45 and 4 a.m. with a red object beneath his arm. Nancy Kuruscz, a newspaper delivery woman, later identified Jenkins from a photo array, DiGiosia said.

“He was seen by a woman who never laid eyes on him before,” DiGiosia said of Kuruscz’s identification.

“He was there. He did it,” DiGiosia said.

DiGiosia told the jury that the defense team was attempting to distract their attention from the facts when they tried to prove that Cager had been embezzling money from the church.

“It’s the pink elephant in the room,” DiGiosia said.

“They want you to look over there, not here at the facts,” she said.

DiGiosia told the jury that Lori Bunker, a forensic certified public accountant and witness for the defense, corroborated part of Cager’s testimony. Cager told the court that at times when the church was insolvent, she did not cash her paychecks so that others on the staff might be paid.

On cross-examination, Bunker said that she found several of Cager’s checks uncashed.

“Lo and behold,” DiGiosia said, “She wasn’t cashing her own paychecks, because the church was operating in a deficit,” DiGiosia said.

DiGiosia told the jury that Carl Jenkins wanted to keep the affair secret from the church membership because he was afraid word of the affair would cost him his status and power.

Defense attorney Michael Levy said Jenkins had no worry about the affair since he and Cager had already confessed the affair to Jenkins’ wife, Ruby Jenkins.

“The affair was no longer secret at the time this incident occurred,” Levy told the jury during his closing statements.

Levy reminded the jury that Cager’s son testified that Jenkins had always been a loving uncle to them and that Jenkins and his wife cared for Cager’s sons while she recuperated from a suicide attempt.

Levy suggested that Kuruscz recognized Jenkins because she had previously seen him in the neighborhood while he and Cager were involved in the affair.

“Does it surprise us that while living across the street from that house for six years, that the Rev. Jenkins, with all the time he spent over there, was the man she picks,” Levy asked the jury.

Levy also reminded the jury that he had “laboriously” led them through Kuruscz’s paper route, which took approximately one hour and passed the intersection of Shelton and Oakgrove Lane at least four times and never saw evidence of a fire.

“No one ever said they smelled smoke. No one ever saw flames,” Levy said.

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