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Felon headed back to prison for 125 years

Guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery, hijacking

JONESBORO — An Atlanta felon released from prison a month before kidnapping a Clayton County woman last year is headed back there for 125 years.

A jury took about two hours Tuesday to find Demetrius Marcus Jernigan, 24, guilty on all 11 counts of kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault, hijacking a motor vehicle, theft by taking and weapons charges, said Clayton Assistant District Attorney Marcus Thorpe.

Superior Court Judge Geronda Carter sentenced Jernigan to 125 years in prison. Jernigan also faces charges in DeKalb County related to the case.

Thorpe said the DA’s office is pleased with the trial’s outcome. He prosecuted the case with Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Thurston.

“We’re pretty excited,” he said. “The jury spoke the truth. This is a well-deserved victory for this office.”

Thorpe said the victim, who cannot be identified because Jernigan allegedly sexually assaulted her in DeKalb, took the stand.

“She did very well,” he said. “It was difficult for her and emotional but she was strong and told exactly what happened to her.”

Thorpe said the victim was going about her morning routine Sept. 8, and stopped to get gas about 8:40 a.m. at the Citgo on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow. Jernigan, who’d been released from prison Aug. 1 after serving three years for robbery by snatching, was living with his sister in a neighboring apartment complex.

Jernigan forced the woman at gunpoint into her 2007 Ford Explorer, threatening to shoot her if she made a scene. Jernigan drove the woman around Clayton, trying to get cash from various store ATMs. After she got $200 from a BP in Ellenwood, police said Jernigan drove her into DeKalb and raped her.

Thorpe said there was no clear indication of a motive.

“We have no confirmation that he was under the influence of anything that day but the victim testified that she thought he was under the influence of something,” he said.

Jernigan exercised his right against self-incrimination and did not testify, said Thorpe.