Jury finds Jackson not guilty
Published 11:09 pm Friday, March 16, 2007
After two notes to the judge indicating they could not come to a decision, a jury found Larry Jackson Jr. not guilty of murder Thursday morning.
Jackson was charged in November with involvement in Marshall “Mark” Brown’s March 2005 murder. Brown was found in his RV, which was parked in front of a friend’s auto shop on U.S. 61 North.
The jury wrote a note to Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson Wednesday evening after spending an hour and a half deliberating. The note asked questions about evidence and said they could not come to a unanimous decision.
Email newsletter signup
Johnson ordered deliberation to continue Thursday morning. After another hour and a half, the jury sent him another note asking if they could declare a hung jury. Only the judge can declare a hung jury, Johnson said.
“The jury has no right to declare a hung jury,” Johnson announced, writing a note back telling the jury to continue deliberating.
Half an hour later, the jury returned the not-guilty verdict.
Jackson jumped to his feet and embraced his attorney, Bradley Hayes, when the verdict was read. Smiling through tears, he hugged family members.
But Jackson didn’t get to go home. In the course of the proceedings, the state asked to present a statement from a jailer suggesting Jackson threatened a potential witness before the trial.
The statement was not germane to the trial, Johnson said, and he did not allow it. But the alleged threats meant further charges could be brought against Jackson. The state had 72 hours in which to do so, Johnson said.
District Attorney Ronnie Harper said he would talk with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office about filing charges.
Adams County Sheriff’s Office Major Charles Harrigill said Jackson would also be held for Franklin Parish, which has a probation violation warrant for him. He last checked in with the parish in 2002, Harrigill said.
As for the verdict, Harper said he never second-guessed the decision of a jury.
“The sheriff’s office did an excellent job,” Harper said.
Although there was no physical evidence, he said he thought they had presented a sufficient amount of evidence.
“We don’t always get the evidence we’d like,” Harper said. “But I felt it was sufficient and was presented the best we could.”
Harper said since the jury found Jackson not guilty that he and sheriff’s office officials would consider what steps to take next on the case of Jackson’s mother, Patsy Jackson, charged with accessory after the fact.
Hayes said he was pleased with the not-guilty verdict.
“It’s a great day for justice in Adams County,” Hayes said. “The jury found an innocent man not guilty.”
Hayes said he was upset that Jackson and Patsy Jackson would not be immediately released.
He also said he “never intended to imply anything sinister” in his closing arguments when he suggested the Adams County Sheriff’s Office had fabricated charges against his client.
“Though they do have the wrong guy,” Hayes said. “Worst-case scenario, they had tunnel vision. I don’t mind apologizing if it’s warranted, but the one person who is definitely owed an apology is Larry Jackson.”
Sheriff Ronny Brown, who said Wednesday he was outraged at Hayes’ closing arguments, said he was not happy at all with the verdict.
“I feel like a murderer is walking free, and he at least ought to admit what he did,” Brown said.
Jeannie Buckles, Jackson’s aunt, said she was happy about her nephew’s verdict but not about his not being released right away.
“We know he didn’t do this,” Buckles said. “We have backed him all the way.”
Catherine Hibbs, Mark Brown’s mother, had trouble talking about the verdict.
“If he did it, God will take care of it,” Hibbs said, crying. “I have to believe that.”