September 23, 2014

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Man sentenced to death in deadly robbery spree

Jackson

Jackson

CLEVELAND — Jeremiah Jackson, a Cleveland man convicted of 40 charges including aggravated murder, kidnapping and aggravated robbery stemming from a crime spree that terrorized victims in three counties, has been sentenced to death by a three-judge panel.

Jackson, 29, shot and killed Tracy Pickryl, 38, of Cleveland, during a string of robberies that began on Cleveland’s east side June 2, 2009, and continued until June 18, when he and three others robbed a Walgreens at 5411 Leavitt Road in Lorain. During that hold-up, the gang’s last, a gun was put to the head of a 61-year-old LaGrange man who was robbed of his wallet, car keys and cell phone before the bandits fled.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Saleh Awadallah credited the quick thinking of Lorain police in releasing surveillance video of the hold-up, which led to Jackson’s arrest.

“That certainly accelerated the solving of these crimes. Once that was broadcast, it was clear a number of people across Northeast Ohio recognized him,” Awadallah said.

A video image of Jackson holding a gun to the LaGrange man’s head proved especially telling.

“That was a shock to see, but it generated a number of leads that resulted in Mr. Jackson and Mr. Harrison being identified,” Awadallah said.

Co-defendants Maurice Harrison, 32, Katrina Dickerson, 25, and James Dixon, 25, all of Cleveland, also took part in the string of robberies with Jackson, who was convicted April 1 of charges including attempted murder, felonious assault and robbery.

On March 31, Harrison was sentenced to 21 years in prison while Dixon received a sentence of 24 years. Dickerson was sentenced to eight years April 1.

Awadallah said the group’s crime wave was especially heinous because it showed a degree of planning and calculation.

“They used Sandusky as their home base, decided to do robberies in Cleveland, and go back to Sandusky. Once they got on a roll, they got good at it,” he said.

Jackson shot Pickryl in the head at point-blank range, killing her during a June 18 robbery of the Soap Opera Laundry on West 25th Street after she tried to give him $6 in change when he demanded money. Jackson then took $75 from another woman before firing a shot at her head, but she ducked and was not hit.

Jackson believed he had killed both women before he learned that the other woman survived to provide information to police.

The three-judge panel could only consider the circumstances surrounding and leading up to Pickryl’s death in their sentencing, Awadallah said.

“Those were the only circumstances we could argue when it came to the penalty phase. She was killed in the course of an aggravated robbery and while he tried to commit another murder.”

Jackson maintained throughout his two-week trial that Pickryl’s death was accidental.

“He claimed she somehow fell into the path of his bullet,” Awadallah said. “He was a foot from her. She was 320 pounds, a large woman. He never took responsibility for her death.

“We rarely have crimes that go across county lines as they did here,” Awadallah said. “The coordination between the three counties (Cuyahoga, Lorain and Erie) brought about a successful prosecution.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.