STAFFORD Quentin Clark, 11, sat down after his testimony and rested his head on his father’s shoulder after he left the witness stand Thursday in the attempted capital murder and arson trial of Carl E. Jenkins in Stafford.
Jenkins, the founder of the Dale City Christian Church Cathedral of Praise, is accused of setting fire to Sandra Cager’s home after she threatened to end a 10-year affair.
Cager was employed at the church for about 10 years beginning around 1991 and progressed from working as an aid in the preschool before-and-after-school child care center to Jenkins’ secretary, then to personal assistant and finally to a position as the church’s chief executive officer, she told the court Thursday.
Cager said the promotions came while she and Jenkins were having what she described as an “adulterous” affair.
Quentin, Sandra Cager’s son and Jenkins’ grandnephew, told the court that Jenkins visited his mother at their house at 300 Shelton Drive several hours before there was a fire at Cager’s front door.
Quentin told the jury and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lori DiGiosia that after a 10- to 15-minute visit at about 8 p.m., Jenkins left the Cager home and telephoned soon after departing.
“He was yelling at my mom. She put the phone out. I heard him yelling, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying,” Quentin said from the stand.
Quentin told Judge James Haley Jr. and defense attorneys Michael Levy and Wayne Marcus Scriven that he awoke in his bedroom at 3:27 a.m. March 2 and smelled gas in his bedroom at the front of the split-level home.
Quentin said he tried to return to sleep after he smelled the gas but was unable.
Cager testified that she awoke at about 4:20 a.m., smelled gasoline and called 911.
Firefighters also smelled gasoline when they arrived at Cager’s house, noticed scorch marks at Cager’s front door and a melted welcome mat. Firefighters then called the Stafford County Sheriff’s Department.
Sgt. Steven Epple testified that he received the call from dispatch to go investigate the fire at 300 Shelton Drive.
Epple had previously been to the address during a vandalism investigation on two cars at Cager’s property.
Both cars stopped running soon after she borrowed them from friends.
One family who loaned her their car had the vehicle towed to a repair shop where the mechanics discovered that sugar had been poured into the car’s gas tank.
When her friends told Cager about the vandalism, she went and removed the gas cap of a borrowed car still in her possession. There was sugar residue under the gas cap, Cager told the jury.
Epple testified that Cager had mentioned that Jenkins might know something about the vandalism because he often drove by her house at odd hours, saying he was keeping an eye on her house.
Cager offered Jenkins’ name to the police as someone who might be able to help.
“She didn’t name him as a suspect in the vandalism, but that’s how you as a police officer interpreted it?” DiGiosia asked Epple.
“That’s correct,” Epple answered.
Epple drove by Jenkins’ house at 124 Oakwood Drive in Stafford before he went to Cager’s home to investigate, but found nothing at the time and determined Jenkins’ cars had not been driven recently.
A newspaper delivery woman testified that she saw a man matching Jenkins’ description in Cager’s neighborhood at the time of the fire, but said she never saw any flames or smelled smoke.
The man was carrying a red object under his arm, testified Nancy Kuruscz.
Epple later found a red gas can behind a bush at Jenkins’ house.
During the questioning before his arrest, Jenkins was uncooperative and mentioned gasoline before the police did, Epple said.
“He wasn’t answering questions. His immediate response was ‘I didn’t use no gasoline.'” Epple told DiGiosia and the court.
“I told him that was odd because nobody had mentioned gasoline,” Epple said.
The sergeant then testified that Jenkins said he had meant to say “sugar.”
During Cager’s testimony, she told the court Jenkins often parked, late at night, in a cul-de-sac near her house, tried to control every aspect of her life and threatened her safety when she tried to leave the relationship, she said.
“You have one more time to provoke me, one more time to p— me off, one more time Sandra to betray me, and I’m going to carry out my plan,” Cager said Jenkins once told her after an argument. Cager said she interpreted that as a threat to her life.
During the trial’s first day, Levy charged that Cager had tried to frame Jenkins after he ended their affair and had set the fire herself.
On Thursday, Scriven asked Cager if it wasn’t the other way around.
“You hated him when he ended that relationship?” Scriven asked Cager.