Florida Wife Charged With Manslaughter For Giving Husband Gun Used in Suicide

There is an interesting case out of Miami where Valerie Jenkins, 56, has been charged with manslaughter after she allegedly handed her husband the gun with which he committed suicide. Robert Jenkins, 51, told her that he wanted to die and, when she threw him the gun, he proceeded to make good on the threat.

She told police that she was fed up with her husband’s threats and reportedly threw him the pistol in exasperation. He then shot himself.

The question is, if this account is true, would it constitute a crime. There is a 9-11 call where Valerie Jenkins reportedly told the operator “he had never actually asked her for it while they were arguing.”

The prosecutors have waited over two years to bring the charges — perhaps a reflection of the uncertainty of such charges. A wife could have legitimately believed that she was going to “call his bluff” and force him to come to grips with his conduct. He presumably could have retrieved the gun himself at any time. It was kept in their bedroom dresser and she took it out and removed it from its zipper bag. It is hard to see where the line is drawn here. What if she did not retrieve the gun but instead encouraged him verbally to do it and end his bickering? They had been married for two years and continually fought with each other, according to published reports. Presumably, words alone could not sustain such a charge. In this case, she added the action of retrieving the gun but it was her husband who elected to use it.

What do you think?

31 thoughts on “Florida Wife Charged With Manslaughter For Giving Husband Gun Used in Suicide”


    Under certain circumstances, liability may be based upon a defendant’s failure to act. This issue most typically arises in homicide cases where the defendant’s conviction is sought on the ground that he failed to take steps to save the victim’s life. However, regardless of his intent or motives, the defendant’s omission will support a finding of criminal liability only where it is shown that:

    1. Defendant was under a legal duty to act;
    2. Defendant had the necessary KNOWLEDGE; and
    3. It would have been possible for defendant to act.

    People v. Chapman, 28 N.W. 896 (Michigan 1886)- Husband who failed to protect wife from rapist held guilty of her rape.

  2. A more reasonable scenario for manslaughter would be if he said, “I want to die” and HE tossed HER the gun, which she subsequently used.

  3. Let’s prase it positively:

    We all have the right to be terrible therapists, don’t we?
    It’s not like they have a union!

    And we all have to right to carry guns and give each other guns, don’t we?
    Even in church, makes a perfect Christmas present.


  4. “Somewhere in the zealotry of the LEO’s pushing the case lies those with religious motivations, or at least that’s my guess.”

    That’s the nail and I think you’ve got the hammer Mike Spindell. She should have (if she could have…) left before the kettle boiled over….

  5. +1 for Mike.

    It doesn’t seem she forced him or anything. Unless she used advanced psychological knowledge or brainwashing, I think manslaughter is too much. Seeing a man shoot himself before her eyes might have been more of a punishment than she deserved.

  6. “If she gave him the keys to the car and he ran the car into a wall, would she be charged for manslaughter? Probably not, but because a gun is involved it’s treated differently.”

    If he said he needed the keys to drive his car into the wall…maybe….

    I wonder if and how many times he previously said “get my gun I just wanna die” and she ignored him…

  7. Blouise

    I’ve been hovering around sticking my toe in occasionally. The brainpower here is intimidating, but I enjoy seeing the arguments presented and always learn something.

  8. Buckeye … where you been, buddy? Are you a Browns fan … if so, yesterday sucked! But the rain held off.

  9. If she didn’t want him to kill himself, she would have removed the clip/bullets then tossed him the gun, assuming he couldn’t see what she’d done. Too little information to make a judgement.

    The question of whether she expected him to kill himself is as impossible to determine as whether he could have been expected to kill himself if/when she gave him the gun.

    I don’t know the law, but trying to make a case based on the facts here sounds iffy to me.

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