The second in what became a trio of domestic homicides cases on Stony Point Road northeast of Charlottesville was resolved in court last month, as 32-year-old Dominic Adonis Gaskins pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend in late 2022.
The Orange County resident’s plea is part of a deal that caps the time Gaskins must serve for the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Sabrina Elizabeth Jenkins, a mother of four boys.
The prosecutor told Albemarle County Circuit Court on Jan. 25 that one of those boys, just a week shy of his fourth birthday, happened to have been a witness to his mother’s murder.
“Their son was in his car,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Holly Vradenburgh.
For that, Gaskins received a felony child endangerment conviction in addition to his murder and firearms convictions.
Vradenburgh provided some details about the violent end to the relationship. Gaskins allegedly ransacked Jenkins’ apartment shortly before the two began texting on the evening of Dec. 21, 2022.
“Things were tense between them,” said Vradenburgh. “He threatened her that she’d never see [their son] again.”
One issue around the time of the killing was Gaskins’ insistence that Jenkins take care of their boy that night. She informed him, Vradenburgh said, that her work schedule made that impossible. At the time, Jenkins was the kitchen manager of Gopuff, a delivery service app whose Charlottesville base is a warehouse on Harris Street.
Social media shows that Jenkins had developed a habit of posting videos of her music-filled commutes between Orange and Charlottesville. But on this evening, Vradenburgh said, she was scared and was phoning a niece for support.
The niece, named Taylor, received word that Gaskins was in pursuit and had started swerving toward her vehicle with his vehicle, Vradenburgh told the court.
“Oh, my god, Taylor, he shot at me,” Jenkins told her niece, according to Vradenburgh.
Albemarle Fire Rescue was the first on the scene, a desolate swath of highway about 3 1/2 miles south of Barboursville, but there was no rescue possible, said Vradenburgh.
“She’d been shot six times,” said Vradenburgh, who also noted that a sealed autopsy report indicated defensive arm wounds and a fatal shot to the head.
An attempt to claim ignorance of the killing to Albemarle County investigators was foiled when they confronted Gaskins with details from the incident, said Vradenburgh. Gaskins changed his story and claimed he acted in self-defense.
Originally charged with second-degree murder, Gaskins saw the charge upgraded by an October grand jury indictment. A first-degree murder conviction can carry a life sentence as its maximum.
In court Jan. 25, Gaskins maintained a slightly slumped posture while sitting at the defense table and also when standing to answer the judge’s questions about how he was pleading.
“Guilty,” Gaskins repeated softly to each of the charges in the plea agreement.
That agreement, signed by Gaskins and public defender J.D. Beard, calls for a minimum active sentence of 33 years and five months with a maximum of 38 years. Vradenburgh told the court that the range is slightly above Virginia’s sentencing guidelines.
The victim’s mother was present in the courtroom but declined a Daily Progress interview request.
Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins accepted the agreement as well as a defense motion requesting a mental health evaluation prior to sentencing. Higgins set the sentencing for April 25.
Gaskins has several prior criminal convictions, including felony eluding, two instances of assault and battery and two instances of domestic assault and battery.
In this case, he appears poised to argue that his mental ailments, which allegedly include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, should mitigate his punishment. His motion for a mental evaluation notes that he has received numerous psychiatric medications and inpatient treatment at a psychiatric hospital; he also has said he sought psychiatric treatment in the weeks leading up to the murder.
“All of these mental health concerns are further compounded and complicated by a significant history of incarceration and inadequate medical care,” assistant public defender Lauren Reese wrote in the motion.
Stony Point Road has been the scene of three homicides since 2022.
The murder of Jenkins took place just two months after the killing of author and artist Matthew Farrell at his residence on Stony Point Road. Late last year, businessman Phaedrus Acgtblu was stabbed to death at his Stony Point Road residence. Authorities have labeled both domestic homicides and have filed murder charges, but neither suspect has yet had a legal resolution of their case.