November 25, 2014


Attorneys say Gas USA killer’s upbringing ‘chaotic’

Vincent Jackson Jr., left, talks with his attorney, J. Anthony Rich, during a video conference with Jackson's grandmother in prison during the sentencing phase at Lorain County Justice Center on Tuesday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Vincent Jackson Jr., left, talks with his attorney, J. Anthony Rich, during a video conference with Jackson’s grandmother in prison during the sentencing phase at Lorain County Justice Center on Tuesday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Defense attorneys for Vincent Jackson Jr. portrayed the admitted killer’s upbringing as “chaotic” on Tuesday during the first day of a hearing that will end with a three-judge panel deciding whether Jackson deserves death for gunning down Qiana Walton during a June 2008 robbery of Gas USA.

Jackson and his lawyers haven’t denied that he shot Walton once in the head after she cooperated with him during the robbery, turning off the alarm system and handing over about $12,000 before he raised his AK-47 and fired.

“We know he had a choice, but what shaped his choice?” defense attorney Dan Wightman asked during his opening statement.

Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Tony Cillo argued that Jackson — who has pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and other charges in the case — should receive the death penalty rather than a life prison sentence.

He said that Jackson demonstrated his level of remorse immediately after shooting Walton when he called her a “bitch” before fleeing the store. The killing was captured in a graphic surveillance video that the judges on the panel saw repeatedly during a brief trial last month before Jackson’s guilty plea to aggravated murder was accepted.

“That is a real-time demonstration of no remorse,” Cillo said.

Wightman argued that Jackson’s decision to kill Walton was shaped by his childhood on the tough streets of Chicago with two parents who both used drugs.

“He didn’t grow up on the streets of Amherst or Avon. He had a rough upbringing,” Wightman said.

Christie Jackson, Vincent Jackson Jr.’s mother, testified that after her son was born, she and his father, Vincent Jackson Sr., split from a marriage marred by domestic violence that continued even after their split.

She said after the divorce, she took up crack cocaine and began drinking. She said she even would prostitute herself to get drugs, cut herself and had tried to kill herself. She admitted that her son was around for much of that.

“He was a happy baby, but as he got older he was hyper and defiant,” Christie Jackson said.

Vincent Jackson Sr., who said he abused drugs and alcohol off and on throughout his son’s life, said that he eventually ended up having custody of his children, but they would still go to their mother’s apartment.

Sometimes, he said, he would go there and find people doing drugs and his children unattended. And although he tried hard to keep his son on the right path, there were problems.

He recalled one incident in which one of his son’s elementary school teachers called to tell him that his son had accurately described how to freebase cocaine during show-and-tell.

He also said he suspected his son of using drugs and of involvement in the Gangster Disciples street gang. He said he once asked his son to try on a red jacket, the color of a rival gang, and the younger Jackson jumped back and said he couldn’t wear that color.

Lucille Jackson, Vincent Jackson Jr.’s 88-year-old grandmother, also described her grandson’s troubles in school. She testified via a video uplink from a federal prison in Illinois, where she is serving time on fraud charges.

She said she remembered her grandson being sent to a juvenile detention home for ditching school.

“He went to the juvenile home because he didn’t want to go to school, and he didn’t want to go to school because he had trouble learning,” Lucille Jackson said. “He didn’t want to be labeled as less than perfect.”

Wightman said that Vincent Jackson Jr. suffers from a host of psychological problems, including antisocial disorder with paranoid traits, attention-deficit disorder, “borderline intellectual functioning” and a history of drug and alcohol abuse.

Before shooting Walton, Jackson had served a lengthy prison sentence in Illinois for shooting a man in the head. But defense attorney J. Anthony Rich argued that wasn’t as bad as it sounds.

He said during a break in the proceedings that his client was defending himself at a family cookout from a group of men who had come over to argue with him about damage he’d caused to a car one of them owned.

One of the men was armed with a crowbar, Rich said, and Jackson fired the gun to protect himself and his family. He said the victim in that case, who survived, later apologized to Jackson and the two men became friendly in prison.

The hearing resumes today with testimony expected from a defense expert on Jackson’s mental health.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

  • stargazer2012

    Guilty. Death penalty.

  • Sis Delish

    If the president had a son…

    In my opinion, all his family members should be hauled into the same prison cell as Jr., while he awaits the executioner.

    There must be a few bucks in the Prosecutor’s budget for transporting the parents from Illinois to Ohio?

    They can put Grandma (Lucille Jackson, Vincent Jackson Jr.’s 88-year-old grandmother, also described her grandson’s troubles in school. She testified via a video uplink from a federal prison in Illinois, where she is serving time on fraud charges.) in the mother-in-law cell…

    Of course, the citizens of Ohio will be entitled to re-imbursement for granny’s digs from the state of chaos, a.k.a. Illinois.

    • Barbara Radke

      Did I read that correctly? THe grandmother testified from a prison cell?

      • brenda

        Lol! Yes you read it right. That is what you call a seriously dysfunctional family! And they try and use that all the time, oh um he had a troubled child hood, hell who didn’t…..

    • michelle

      Couldn’t have said it better. The parents , I use that term loosely, should go right along with him.

  • Ralph Davis

    Sounds like adulthood will be pretty chaotic, too. Maybe they can vote him Prom Queen in prison and make him feel special.

    • brenda


  • Jenna Taella

    lets just go easy on the poor guy… he had a rough childhood. clearly it wasnt his fault that he murdered an innocent person in a gas station robbery…. this is whats wrong with our justice system

  • stillsleepyeyes

    If only burge was the judge …..this would be over with and he would be home playing video games…………….

  • Bigdogg440

    well if his childhood was soo “chaotic” that he doesnt know how to function in society as a normal citizen ,sounds to me the best place for him would be away from normal law abiding citizens.IN JAIL!!!

    • Mark B

      If a Dog had that many problems it would just be put down. I am certain he knows right from wrong. Certainly he knew that taking someone’s life was wrong regardless of his troubled childhood. I don’t think it is the Taxpayers responsibility to clothe , feed and house him for the rest of his life. As it is he will sit on death row for the next 20 years as it is. Make the punishment swift and severe and maybe the next guy will think twice. It sounds like all of the family have just confessed to many criminal charges, so they should be charged with child endangering for all the bad stuff in his childhood. Don’t expect society to feel sorry for him , certainly none of the family did all through his raising.

  • Barbara Radke

    The two men became friendly in prison? Yep he reformed, you don’t have to have a high IQ to know if you enjoyed prison or not and if you care to try for a second time.Many many children grow up in similar conditions and use that as an example of how they don’t want to live. He had a choice, made a conscious choice now he has to live or die with it.

  • Jennifer Williams

    Wait a minute! He shot another man in the head before this? The first victim did not die and he apologized to him and they became friends in prison?

    • Jennifer Williams

      So did he not realize the value of life after shooting his first victim? What is there for the judges to say? Oh maybe he will learn after this time? I swear our system is so jacked up!

      • Mark B

        He was only out of prison for the first shooting for 2 weeks before he murdered this young lady.

    • brenda


      • Jennifer Williams

        The whole family!

  • tomfeher

    I’m so sorry he had a chaotic childhood, now push the plunger!

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    I’m starting to agree with the defense attorney and I think it would be prudent to sentence Jackson’s entire family for the murder of Miss Walton. To the gallows with the lot of them!

  • brenda

    He didn’t give that younglady a chance, he doesn’t deserve one either!!

  • Carrie Watson

    So what? Wrong is wrong! He compounded his wrong by killing the person that he robbed, and he’s a grown man. He should have taken steps to get help for himself. Guilty! Death penalty!

  • John Davidson

    Sounds like a few generations that shouldn’t have been permitted to reproduce.

  • Danyel Hite Bailey

    Seriously? He’s a murderer and should be put to death. He’s obviously not remorseful or he wouldn’t be blaming his childhood. Most of us has been thru worse.

  • bdid.d

    Awe poor guy… now I feel really sorry for HIM… this is a sad excuse for killing this poor woman who was working for a living!

  • grannyof6

    What a bunch of bull. There are a lot of people who had a chaotic upbringing but they don’t go out and killing someone with an assault weapon who was an innocent victim to his crime. He did the crime, he deserves the DEATH PENALTY and put to DEATH tomorrow!

  • Myview

    So let’s see I grew up in an Alcoholic, drug and physically abusive household. At a very young age I realized that it was wrong and when I grew up I was going to break that CYCLE…it’s a choice…people know right from wrong….and YES I broke the CYCLE! Excuses are just that! Excuses! Suck it up! He took a productive citizen from us. Someone who had a future, other than being someone’s cell B_itch! Hopefully he gets every bit of what he deserves!

    • Jennifer Williams

      I agree!

  • Renee

    If I didn’t know the defendant personally growing up , I would think the defense is a bunch of BULL too .. Chaotic isn’t the word to describe his upbringing. And yes his family was AND is dysfunctional. Its very sad what happened to the victim ,but Vincent doesn’t deserve to be put to death. I honestly don’t think he deserves to be in jail . The system failed him a long time ago no child should have to grow up in the conditions that he did . He has always had mental problems growing up and just like any other disease ( cancer,diabetes) when it goes undiagnosed and untreated it becomes fatal and that’s what happened to him. When he shot that boy all those years ago I was there and he was protecting his family in the only way he knew how …with violence . Maybe if he would’ve gotten help then instead of being thrown in jail serving as another WIN for the prosecutor because he couldn’t afford decent lawyers this wouldn’t have happened. DONT BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE