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Prosecutors officially dropped perjury charges against Shayanna Jenkins. Jenkins is engaged to former NFL tight-end and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, and the two have a 2-year-old daughter together.
Prosecutors had alleged Jenkins lied during her grand jury testimony, but in light of her truthful testimony during Hernandez's murder trial, decided not to pursue the charges.
Jenkins consistently maintained she did not intentionally lie to the grand jury. She pleaded not guilty to the perjury charges and her attorney told The Associated Press that "She made an honest mistake" during testimony that lasted over two days and 1,600 questions.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, said that Jenkins repeatedly lied to the grand jury, especially regarding her disposal of certain items at Hernandez's request, one being a box prosecutors believe contained the murder weapon. Prosecutors told Jenkins they would drop the perjury charges if she testified at Hernandez's murder trial, which she did.
Courts, and especially criminal courts, take perjury very seriously. While state perjury laws can vary, the penalties for committing perjury in a criminal case (whether at trial or before a grand jury during indictment proceedings) can be severe.
While her attorney says the charges were baseless, Jenkins was facing some serious jail time. The Massachusetts perjury statute reads: "Whoever commits perjury on the trial of an indictment for a capital crime shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years."
And that's just for one count of perjury. Prosecutors in this case cited over a dozen instances where they thought Jenkins lied to the grand jury. So it's not hard to see where the state gained the leverage to make a deal with Jenkins, whose involvement in her fiancee's murder case appears to be completed.
When asked by reporters whether she and Hernandez were still together, Jenkins twisted her engagement ring and replied, "Eh."
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