A jury on Monday acquitted a man of stalking model and reality TV star Kendall Jenner and convicted him of trespassing at her secluded Hollywood Hill home.
The jury of seven women and five men returned the verdict against Shavaughn McKenzie after a seven-day trial in which Jenner described her fear at finding McKenzie lurking in her driveway and banging on her car window in August.
A defence attorney had urged jurors to reject the stalking charge, saying there was no evidence showing McKenzie intended to cause Jenner fear.
McKenzie is scheduled to be sentenced November 10 on the misdemeanour trespassing charge. He could face up to six months in jail but will likely be released because of credits for good behaviour.
His attorney Taylor Shramo said he hopes to secure mental health treatment for McKenzie, a Florida native who travelled from Georgia to Los Angeles last year and started hanging around outside Jenner’s former home.
The verdict marks the second time this year that a Los Angeles jury has rejected a stalking case involving a celebrity. In February, a jury acquitted an Ohio man of stalking Gwyneth Paltrow after determining he did not intend to cause her fear by repeatedly sending letters to her.
In the Jenner case, Deputy City Attorney Alex Perez said in court that McKenzie, 25, had tracked Jenner’s whereabouts for 15 months before his arrest. He noted that McKenzie has never said how he learned that Jenner had moved to the hilltop home tucked away from the street and accessible only after driving through a 4-metre gate.
Perez said he was disappointed by the verdict and hoped McKenzie would receive treatment.
Perez said McKenzie followed Jenner’s car onto the property and only left after she backed out of the driveway and three of her friends arrived to detain McKenzie until police arrived.
“I’ve never been so scared in my life,” the 20-year-old Jenner testified, saying she had recognised McKenzie as the same man who twice accosted her while she was driving outside her former home.
Jenner said his refusal to leave her Hollywood Hills property prompted her to make panicked calls to friends for help.
“I definitely don’t feel safe in my own house anymore,” she testified.
Jenner obtained a civil restraining order on October 13 that requires McKenzie to stay away from her for five years.
Shramo urged jurors earlier on Monday to reject the case, saying McKenzie merely wanted to talk to Jenner and posed no danger to her. He accused Perez of emphasising Jenner’s celebrity status to try to gain a conviction.
“He wants you to be star-struck,” Shramo said.
He said after the verdict that mental health professionals have repeatedly found that McKenzie doesn’t have violent tendencies.
The incident has caused Jenner distress as she pursues a modelling career and appears on her family’s show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
“She doesn’t want to be surrounded by security,” Perez said. “And she certainly doesn’t want to be stalked.”
A forensic psychiatrist hired to evaluate McKenzie testified that he was delusional and his efforts to locate Jenner were part of his mental illness.
McKenzie’s mother June Osavio told jurors she repeatedly tried to get help for her son, but he refused to take his medications. He disappeared in March 2015 after they moved to Georgia, she said.
Osavio called the verdict fair.
Jenner is the younger sister of Kim Kardashian West. In court, Jenner shyly recounted her career, which has included doing a cover photo for Vogue magazine and modelling for top fashion lines.