He told investigators he heard gunfire and watched the Mustang roll backward but didn’t see the killer because his view was blocked by a parked van. Jennings said he called a supervisor and waited for her to arrive before approaching the car. O’Keefe’s parents and brother attended the hearing and left court without commenting. Jennings’ wife left the courtroom, sat on a hallway bench and began crying. She was comforted by others, including a woman dressed in olive green camouflage fatigues who rubbed her back. Jennings was named in December 2000 in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by O’Keefe’s parents but was not criminally charged until prosecutors filed the case Nov. 15, about two days before Jennings, a sergeant in the Army National Guard, returned home on leave. He was arrested Dec. 13 when deputies stopped his vehicle on a Lancaster street. Prosecutors in the past declined to file criminal charges, citing insufficient evidence, but said after charges were filed that proceedings in the civil case changed the “character of the evidence.” O’Keefe had returned to her car after leaving it at the lot while she rode with a friend to work as an extra during the taping of a music video for rapper Kid Rock. The gun that killed O’Keefe has never been found. In May 2002, members of a local scuba diving club combed the murky bottom of nearby Palmdale Lake but turned up nothing. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita Outside the courtroom, Deputy Public Defender John Henderson declined to comment on the legal conflict, citing confidentiality, but said of Jennings, “I think he’s innocent.” In Jennings’ first court appearance, Dec. 15, Henderson asked the judge for a report on the suitability of releasing Jennings on a written promise to appear for future hearings, citing his community ties and military service, including about 10 months in combat zones in Iraq. Jennings is charged with murder in the Feb. 22, 2000, death of 18-year-old Michelle O’Keefe. She was found shot to death behind the wheel of her blue 2000 Ford Mustang in the Park-and-Ride lot on Avenue S in Palmdale. With its engine running and the driver’s door opened, the car had backed out of a parking space and rolled over the edge of a small concrete planter. In interviews with investigators, Jennings, working for a private security company under contract with the city, has denied killing her. LANCASTER – Arraignment was postponed Monday for a second time for a former security guard charged in the 2000 murder of a Palmdale teenager at a Park-and-Ride lot that he was patrolling. Raymond Lee Jennings, a 31-year-old Iraq war veteran who was arrested about a month after he returned home on leave, did not enter a plea after the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office said it cannot represent Jennings because of a conflict. “The court intends to appoint the alternate public defender tentatively. I’m advised they will not accept the case until the supervisor returns, which is Wednesday,” Antelope Valley Superior Court Judge Steve Ogden told Jennings. “We may or may not have an answer for you on representation, do you understand?” Jennings, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands handcuffed to his waist, replied, “Yes, sir.” He was ordered to return to court Wednesday and remained in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.
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