The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 09, 2020 1:00 am

Prosecutor from outside put on case

Defendant in murder trial is victim in separate case

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A prosecutor from Monroe County will handle the case of a Fort Wayne woman charged with stabbing her mother to death last month. 

Kennishewa Whitley, 24, also known as Raina Swopshire, is charged with murder in the Dec. 11 slaying of Stacy Jennings. Whitley also is a victim in a separate criminal case, and Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards sought the appointment of a special prosecutor this week. 

“In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, this cause should be referred to a special prosecutor,” Richards wrote in a request to Allen Superior Court Judge David Zent.

Zent approved the request Tuesday, appointing Monroe County Senior Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Gaal to the case. 

Police were called around 3 a.m. to 1311 Greene St., where they found Jennings with stab wounds. Whitley had called 911, telling dispatchers Jennings tried to assault her and she killed her mother, according to court documents. 

The murder charge was filed six days later, and court records show her next court hearing is Jan. 21. Whitley faces 45 to 65 years in prison if convicted. 

Whitley told police she allowed her mother to stay in her apartment, where Jennings had to agree not to drink or do drugs, court documents say. The rules were broken Dec. 11, when Whitley reportedly told investigators she awoke to find Jennings groping her.  

They argued earlier that night over a “little black bag” Jennings had that contained crack cocaine and paraphernalia, police said.

Later, after Whitley awoke, the women fought and Jennings went to the kitchen and grabbed two knives – throwing one, but missing her daughter, police said. Whitley took the remaining knife from her mother and “just started swinging,” a probable cause affidavit alleges.

An autopsy showed Jennings died from multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck. 

Gaal had been the elected prosecuting attorney in Monroe County and ran unsuccessfully to be a circuit court judge. He still handles cases as a special prosecutor.

Erika Oliphant was elected Monroe County prosecutor in 2018.

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