Fort Worth Man Gets 45 Years in Cold Case

Cold case solved 14 years later thanks to DNA

Friday, Feb 24, 2012  |  Updated 5:31 PM CDT
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FW Man Gets 45 Years in Cold Case

Tarrant Co. District Attorney

Roberto Vento, identified by DNA, reached a plea bargain agreement and pleaded guilty to murder in the slaying of Marianna "Mary" Jenkins 14 years ago.

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A Fort Worth man has been sentenced to 45 years in prison in connection with a rape and murder that went unsolved for more than a decade.

Tarrant County criminal prosecutors say Roberto Vento pleaded guilty Friday to the murder of Marianna "Mary" Jenkins.

On Dec. 28, 1997, Jenkins, 38, stumbled into a neighbor’s doorway naked with multiple stab wounds. She was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital, where she worked as a lab technician. A week later Jenkins died of her injuries.

Vento was linked to the case in 2009, when new testing found Vento's DNA on the handle of the knife used to stab Jenkins. Vento's DNA was in a database of convicted offenders.

"This case is a good example of the crime-solving capabilities of the CODIS criminal DNA database," Deputy Chief Criminal District Attorney Bob Gill said in a news release. "This brutal murder was solved and this defendant brought to justice by modern forensic science."

At the time the match was made, Jenkins was already serving a five-year prison sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl.

Prosecutors agreed to the 45-year-term in exchange for his guilty plea. Vento must serve at least half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

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