Family feeling failed by system, overwhelmed by news of overturned conviction
BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A victim’s family is feeling overwhelmed and discouraged by the overturn of a manslaughter conviction in their family member’s death.
Herman Manigault III, affectionately known as Trey to family, was shot and killed outside a club in Huger in 2013.
“We got the news about 5′oclock that morning. On our 12th wedding anniversary. And it’s so painful every anniversary,” Maurice Jenkins, the stepfather of the victim says.
Sha’Quille Washington was indicted for the murder, later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Years after the shooting and trial, the State Supreme Court heard Washington’s appeal and overturned the conviction. Their ruling does not clear Washington of all accusations and does not declare him innocent, but it does move the entire case back to square one.
“How you can make a decision like that without the parents of the victim being present. I don’t feel that’s justice. That wasn’t fair to us,” Maurice says.
Janet Jenkins, Manigault’s mother, says the entire process is difficult to even talk about, and she remembers her son loving the outdoors, dirt biking and hunting.
“He was such a sweetheart. He had such good manners. That’s my boy,” Janet says.
Family members say the trial was long and arduous. Rev. Dr. Walter Jenkins Sr., Manigault’s uncle, was the spokesperson for the family during the court process.
“I asked the judge for the maximum and we were satisfied with the maximum of 30 years, that gave us a sense…because I even said he’s still going to be a young man when he gets out 47 years old. But Trey is never coming back. Herman’s never coming back,” Walter says.
After a trial, most lawyers for the defense will file an appeal, arguing that there was missing evidence or mistakes in the trial that would make the process invalid.
The State Supreme Court’s ruling written by Justice James includes background saying: “A fight ensued in the parking lot. Testimony as to the participants of the fight, the specifics of the fight, and the shooting of Manigault varied greatly between the State’s witnesses, Petitioner’s witnesses, and the Petitioner’s statement to law enforcement.”
Larry Jenkins is Manigault’s cousin, but describes him as a close friend, and was with him at the club the night of the shooting.
“I went from being his cousin to being a witness to being his pallbearer within a week,” Larry says.
During the trial, many witnesses described a chaotic scene with differing descriptions of what happened.
“That night was all – it was all pride. People’s hurt pride and because of someone’s hurt pride someone’s not here today,” Larry says.
During the trial, the state chose to instruct the jury in the “hand of one is the hand of all” liability during their arguments. That instruction says if there is evidence two people worked together and either could have dealt the fatal blow, that both people are equally responsible for the crime. The state worked to present evidence that a friend of Washington’s was also involved in the fight and may have conspired with Washington against the victim.
During Washington’s appeal process, the State Supreme Court decided there was not enough evidence presented during the trial that he might have had an accomplice. The court decided everything that might have pointed to his innocence was tainted by the idea of a second shooter.
The victim’s family says they feel like this is a loophole and fear what it means for their healing.
“During the biblical days when you murder someone in the family, you send out the family avenger to avenge that blood. But the justice system is supposed to have taken the place of the family avenger. The system has found loopholes,” Walter says.
“I forgive the family that’s involved. All they wanted to do was get their son back. And I can understand that. The problem is my family is not going to get their son back. There is no overturning death, there’s no overturning that,” Larry says.
Washington is scheduled to appear in Moncks Corner Court on Oct. 25 to determine what is next. The Jenkins family plans to be there.
“I could even accept it if he apologized to my family. As far as I understand right now, I haven’t heard any of that. So, my issue is it going to be another 23-year-old sitting here in 10 more years thinking about it every single day of their life. Having post-traumatic stress, sitting there getting tight every time he sees a black SUV or a black vehicle because he doesn’t know who might be in that car?” Larry asks.
For now, the Jenkins family says all they can do is pray, listen and support each other in whatever comes next. They still have fears about the future and concerns about the justice system after their experience so far that they hope are answered at the next hearing.
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