Lexington, SC - A 47-year-old man from Gilbert pled guilty Tuesday to Kidnapping and Assault with Intent to Commit Criminal Sexual Conduct against a 21-year-old woman. Christopher Jody Jennings was sentenced by Chief Administrative Judge Frank R. Addy, Jr., to 25 years in prison on both charges. Jennings also pled guilty to Carjacking and received a concurrent 20-year sentence. The Kidnapping and Carjacking occurred in Lexington County while the Assault with Intent to Commit Criminal Sexual Conduct occurred in nearby Aiken County. Under South Carolina Law, all three charges are classified as “no parole” offenses.
On November 8, 2016, the victim went to pick up food from Shealy’s Bar-B-Que in Batesburg-Leesville for her birthday dinner with her parents. After she didn’t return home, her parents got worried attempted to call her several times. They eventually drove around for about an hour looking for her. Unable to locate their daughter, they called 911. The Batesburg-Leesville Police Department and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department also began looking for the victim and her vehicle.
As the victim was leaving Shealy’s and entering her vehicle, video surveillance captured Jennings rushing up to her SUV. He approached the opened driver’s side door and forced the victim to move over to the front passenger’s seat.
During the kidnapping, Jennings threatened the woman’s life alleging he had a gun. He told her he had killed before. Jennings drove the woman around until he eventually crossed county lines. While in the town of Monetta, in Aiken County, Jennings forced the victim out of the vehicle and attempted to sexually assault her multiple times. She was able to resist him and eventually convinced him to stop.
After several hours, law enforcement located the victim’s SUV driving in Batesburg-Leesville and conducted a traffic stop. The driver pulled into the Bi-Lo parking lot. Jennings jumped out of the SUV and ran from the officer on foot. Video surveillance from the parking lot captured all of this happening. With the use of a K-9 officer, Jennings was apprehended a short distance away.
Jennings is a convicted sex offender. He has a previous conviction for Criminal Sexual Conduct – First Degree from 2005 and received a 15-year sentence for that.
Senior Assistant Solicitor Angela Martin handled the prosecution of this case for the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office. She requested a significant prison sentence because of the nature of the crime and Jennings’ past. She expressed to the Court that Jennings was a predator and a danger to the community. Senior Assistant Solicitor Martin praised the victim for keeping calm in a horrific situation and for surviving.The victim was present during sentencing and, in a letter, shared with the Judge how this night impacted her. She told the Judge about the nightmares that she had following the ordeal.
Officers and investigators with the Batesburg-Leesville Police Department handled the investigation of this case. They received assistance from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.