A 25-year-old man was convicted of a misdemeanor Monday for trespassing on the Hollywood Hills property of model and reality television personality Kendall Jenner, but jurors acquitted him of a misdemeanor stalking charge.
The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated for less than two hours before reaching its verdict.
Shavaughn McKenzie’s attorney argued during the trial that the man only wanted to talk to Jenner when he approached her on Aug. 14, and had no malicious intent and no desire to scare her.
The attorney, Taylor Shramo, quoted his client as telling a police officer, “Every time I just want to talk to her, something always goes wrong.”
“He never had any malicious intent … he certainly never intended to place her in fear,” Shramo told the jury panel during his closing argument. “He thought that they could be friends.”
The maximum sentence for the trespassing conviction is six months. Given double credit for days served under California law, McKenzie has nearly served that amount of time already.
Shramo asked that sentencing be set for Nov. 10, when his client is expected to be sentenced to time-served with no probation.
“The obligations (of probation) often set (clients) up to fail,” Shramo said outside the courtroom.
The defense attorney added that he was working with McKenzie’s mother, who stood alongside the attorney, to try to get his client “the treatment he needs.”
During his closing argument, the defense attorney said his client was diagnosed in 2012 with “unspecified psychotic disorder” and still suffers from the mental illness, an assertion backed by psychologist Jasmine Tehrani.
Tehrani testified that she did not see any evidence of violent tendencies or aggression exhibited by McKenzie, and said documents she reviewed from his arrest indicated that he believed he had something important to tell Jenner about the election.
“He doesn’t recognize that his mere presence … is going to cause her concern or is going to startle her,” said Tehrani, who was appointed on behalf of the defense.
The defense attorney acknowledged Jenner’s fear.
“I’m not going to argue this. Ms. Jenner was terrified,” Shramo said.
However, McKenzie is “not a danger, he’s not violent,” the defense attorney argued, reminding jurors of testimony that his client backed away from Jenner’s car when he saw her surprise and held his hands up to indicate he meant her no harm.
His client’s intent was at the heart of the matter, as the stalking charge relies on malicious intent and a credible threat, Shramo told the jury.
“Where’s the threat?” Shramo said, while accusing Deputy City Attorney Alex T. Perez of playing to Jenner’s celebrity.
Outside the courtroom following the verdict, Perez said he was “disappointed,” adding he believed there was “more than enough evidence to convict him on (stalking).”
Proving intent to frighten Jenner was difficult, Perez acknowledged.
“I hope there’s not a repeat,” the prosecutor said, noting that if McKenzie does anything else to disturb Jenner, his intent will be much easier to prove.
In his closing argument on Oct. 20, Perez told jurors that McKenzie ventured across the country, figured out the location of Kendall’s residence, staked out the Westwood condominium building where she previously lived and repeatedly approached her even after she took measures to avoid him.
The prosecutor said McKenzie knew from Jenner’s reactions that she was “afraid of him,” yet “still makes contact again and again and again.”
McKenzie was arrested Aug. 14 after approaching Jenner as she waited for the 13-foot-tall gate to her property to close after she drove through.
Jenner — who appears on her family’s reality TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” — identified McKenzie in court Oct. 13 as the man who has “been following me for a couple of years” and said she had “never been so scared in my life” after being approached by him in her driveway.
She testified that she initially asked him nicely twice to leave, then screamed at him another six or seven times to do so.
“I was crying, I was screaming, I was freaking out,” Jenner testified. “I didn’t know what his intentions were … I was frightened for sure.”
She said McKenzie had previously approached her car outside the Westwood condominium complex, including one incident in which she swerved out of the way as he ran up toward her and another time when he approached her vehicle as she waited at a red light and then approached her again after she turned right and then made a U-turn to try to elude him.
The prosecutor, while noting that the jury had heard evidence that McKenzie is “mentally disturbed,” said the defendant had a “single-minded focus” on Jenner and made “remarkable” progress toward his goal of meeting her.
Perez said the defendant, who had lived in Georgia and Florida, was “able to find out the victim’s precise address,” telling jurors that it was “probably pretty difficult” as it’s “not posted on a billboard somewhere.”
He said McKenzie managed to figure out Jenner’s schedule despite being homeless and living on the streets and to become a fixture outside her condominium complex when she was in town.
“He can think and plan … and succeed,” the prosecutor said.
The deputy city attorney described McKenzie as “clever,” saying that the night of his arrest, he waited two to three houses down from where Jenner lived to watch for her because he knew from past encounters that she was going to try to avoid him if she saw him outside her gate.
“He’s hitting the window … and insisting that she speak with him,” Perez told jurors, noting that a family friend who was speaking on the phone with Jenner could hear what was happening. “He knew the victim was afraid of him.”
Jenner was too afraid to sleep in her own home for three days after the run-in with McKenzie, the prosecutor said.
–City News Service
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