2 defendants in meth case linked to child’s death are sentenced
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 6:05 AM
Two defendants who testified for the prosecution at a murder trial linked to a fatal meth fire were sentenced Friday on reduced charges.
Jacob A. Bell, 36, and Jennifer Michelle Jennings, 27, testified last week at the trial of Jeffrey Wayne McBride.
The three defendants had been charged with acting in concert with each other and causing the death of Jennings' son, Ayden Jennings, by committing arson in the process of manufacturing methamphetamine on Nov. 10, 2011.
Ayden, who was six days shy of being 15 months old, was found dead in a duplex in the 1400 block of West Admiral Boulevard after a fire at the residence. A medical examiner determined that the boy died from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.
On Jan. 25, McBride, who stood trial alone, was found not guilty of felony murder, first-degree arson and manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance - methamphetamine.
Jennings was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a count of child neglect.
In accordance with a plea deal, counts of felony murder, arson and manufacturing against her were dismissed.
District Judge Kurt Glassco sentenced Bell to 30 years in prison when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child neglect.
The murder charge against Bell was reduced from first-degree felony murder. Arson and manufacturing counts against Bell also were dismissed.
Bell and Jennings must serve at least 85 percent of their respective sentences before becoming eligible for parole.
The not-guilty verdicts did not earn McBride, 48, a release from custody.
He had been sentenced Jan. 14 to 25 years in prison in a different meth-related case.
In the case involving the deadly fire, prosecutors maintained that evidence indicated that McBride was cooking meth at the residence that morning.
McBride told police that he took meth to Bell and Jennings' residence to get high, but he said he did not cook meth there that morning.
Testimony indicated that with two children in the duplex - Ayden and Bell's 5-year-old son - all three defendants used meth.
In the case that resulted in a 25-year prison term, McBride pleaded guilty in December to endeavoring to manufacture or possess meth on Nov. 12, 2011 - two days after the fatal fire - at a residence in the 1000 block of North College Avenue.
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Jacob A. Bell and Jennifer Michelle Jennings: Bell was sentenced to 30 years in prison when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child neglect. Jennings was sentenced to 20 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to child neglect.