Tonica Jenkins, the woman who once used forged documents to gain admission to a Yale graduate program, was convicted Tuesday of attempted aggravated murder after she tried to kill another woman to fake her own death, Court TV reported.
In 2001, Jenkins, now 27, was set to stand trial on drug charges in Florida. To avoid the trial, Jenkins planned to pay Melissa Lantham to file her dental records under Jenkins’ name. Jenkins and her cousin, Kyle Martin, then plotted to murder Lantham and burn her body, leaving the switched records as the only means of identification.
In 1997, Jenkins also made headlines when she forged transcripts and letters of recomendation to gain admission to Yale’s biological and biomedical sciences graduate program. For the forgery, she was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to return more than $16,000 in financial aid.
Jurors in the attempted murder trial were not told about the incident.
In all, Jenkins was convicted of six charges, including attempted aggravated murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, and felonious assault.
At sentencing, Judge Lillian Greene called Jenkins a “narcissistic predator.”
“You committed in my view the worst form of attempted aggravated murder,” Greene said.
Jenkins declined to speak at her sentencing. Lantham made a brief statement to the court Tuesday, encouraging the judge to give Jenkins a harsh punishment.
“No time you guys can give Tonica today can make up for what she did to me,” Lantham said.
Greene sentenced Jenkins to 20 years in prison, which she will serve consecutively with an existing 24-year sentence on federal drug charges.
— William Sullivan