The teenage girl charged with complicity to murder in the death of her stepmother had a not-guilty plea entered on her behalf Tuesday in Boyle Circuit Court.
Jenna Oakley, 15, was indicted as an adult in October for the death of stepmother Rhonda Oakley, 52. The plea was entered by public defender Landon Tingle.
Rhonda Oakley was found slain in September inside her Danville home by her 13-year-old stepson when he came home from school.
Meanwhile, Jenna’s father, Phillip Oakley, 45, said in an interview after the arraignment, “I’m just hoping she gets what she deserves.”
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“I’ve had a lot of criticism about the way I feel about her,” Oakley said, “but I tell most people, ‘Until you walk in my shoes, don’t criticize me because you don’t know what this feels like.’”
“I lost my soul mate in Rhonda, and I have no remorse for what happens to Jenna,” Oakley said. “I can’t pick the punishment or it would be really bad.”
Jenna and her boyfriend, Kenneth Nigh, 21, of Arlington, Ind., were found two days after Rhonda Oakley’s death in a motel parking lot in New Mexico. They were found with the white Honda Civic reported missing after the death.
Nigh, who was charged with one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, attempted suicide in jail in New Mexico and later died at a Texas hospital.
Under Kentucky law, juveniles 14 and older may be tried as adults if charged with a violent felony, such as murder, assault, rape or robbery.
Jenna will not face the death penalty if convicted. In a 2005 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of people who were under 18 at the time of their crimes violates the federal constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.
Phillip Oakley said he has spoken to Jenna once and “I don’t hear any remorse in her voice. I’ve asked her why. She doesn’t have an answer. The one time I did talk to her, she said ‘What do you want?’ And I said, ‘I want my wife back.’ And she said, ‘Really? That’s what you want? You want your wife back?’”
“You know, you always think of your daughter as, they’re going to prom, or you’re going to walk them down the aisle someday. How did mine turn out like this?” Oakley said. “... I consider her and Kenny both monsters. I just don’t see how someone can do that to someone that’s caring for them, that’s doing everything to love ’em.”
In a previous interview, Phillip Oakley said there were ‘warning signs” before his wife’s death. Asked about that Tuesday, he said: “I don’t know what I can say because I don’t want to jeopardize anything. At some point, I'll go into more detail. I can just say there are people who knew things. There were warning signs and ... people were contacted, but nobody did anything.”
Oakley said Christmas time was his wife’s favorite time of year.
“I always thought Christmas was too materialistic and all that, but she really, really loved it,” he said. “Something’s missing. ... This time of year she’d be wearing some crazy-looking sweater. I’ve got the memories but it’s still hard. And our anniversary is two days after Christmas. I’m just dreading this.”
Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler scheduled a status hearing in the case for Jan. 3 in Danville.