The tragic 1994 murder that led to the creation of Megan’s Law

According MyCentralJerseyJesse Timmendequas was tried for the murder and assault of Megan Kanka in May 1997. Los Angeles Times writes that the prosecution maintained that Timmendequas always intended to assassinate Kanka. Meanwhile, the defense reiterated that Timmendequas only killed her out of fear that he would be caught for assaulting her. By PA News, his defense also attempted to portray Timmendequas as a victim. His brother, Paul, admitted that he and Timmendequas had been physically and sexually abused by their father, James Edward Howard. Howard told AP News that was a lie and that he hoped his son would receive the death penalty.

Within weeks, MyCentralJersey reports that Timmendequas has been found guilty of his crimes against Kanka. In June of that year, Timmendequas was sentenced to death. A juror, John Gorton, said: “I am a Christian, and for me it was difficult to justify this verdict.” He added, “A lot of us were looking for something that would allow us to not give that phrase, but we couldn’t find it.” MegansLawInfo states that Timmendequas was on death row until 2007. That year, New Jersey abolished the death penalty. Nevertheless, Timmendequas will remain in prison for life without the possibility of parole. In 2015, Timmendequas tried and failed to overturn his conviction (via NJ.com).

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available. Visit the National Rape, Abuse and Incest Network website or contact the RAINN National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).