Raleigh, N.C. — A Smithfield man who has served time for killing one man and still faces charges in a 22-year-old homicide case has been found guilty of human trafficking, authorities said Monday.
A federal jury in Raleigh convicted Jonathan Lynn “Max” Jenkins, 48, on Friday of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; sex trafficking of a minor; using the internet to promote a prostitution business enterprise; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Jenkins will be sentenced later and faces a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
According to evidence presented during a five-day trial, Jenkins and a co-conspirator prostituted many women and girls between November 2014 and October 2015. After luring the women with promises of food, shelter and a better life, Jenkins and his co-conspirator manipulated and controlled their lives, isolating them, withholding food and keeping all of the money they earned.
Jenkins beat and choked the victims, sometimes to unconsciousness, and he emotionally and psychologically abused them, authorities said. Among other threats, he claimed to have magical powers that allowed him to hunt them down and kill them. He sexually assaulted the women and even tried to kill a man who helped one woman escape, authorities said.
Jenkins pleaded guilty in April 2006 to second-degree murder in the 1998 shooting death of Joseph Richard Vestal Jr. in the Clayton Estates Mobile Home Park. He served an eight-year sentence and was released in January 2014.
He also is charged with first-degree murder in the April 1999 death of Elton Demond Whitfield. Whitfield’s body was found in a field near Lake Myra Road in Wake County a month after he went missing from his Clayton home.
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