November 26, 2014


Judges deliberate fate of Gas USA clerk’s killer (Video)

ELYRIA — Vincent Jackson Jr.’s head hung down as the video of him killing Qiana Walton played in court Tuesday. He jerked upright when the fatal gunshot rang out.

Vincent Jackson Jr. looks up during his testimony before the judges in court on Tuesday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Vincent Jackson Jr. looks up during his testimony before the judges in court on Tuesday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Earlier in the hearing, Jackson, 33, apologized to Walton’s family for gunning down the Gas USA clerk during a June 14, 2008, robbery and asked that they forgive him.

Jackson began his statement to the three-judge panel that will decide whether he receives a life prison term or a death sentence by reading a letter a cousin mailed to him less than a week after he shot Walton once in the head with an AK-47.

The letter admonished him for killing the unarmed Walton and said he needed to explain why he had shot her. The writer, whom Jackson didn’t identify by name, also wrote that he hoped someone would send him a picture of Walton for him to look at and reflect on.

Jackson’s voice broke at times during his statement, but he said he couldn’t cry.

“I want to cry right now, but I don’t know why I can’t,” he said. “But I know that I truly, truly am sorry to the family for what I did.”

Jackson said he has saved the letter for six years and it has become an important part of his life. He also said he can only now look at Walton’s family.

“I was hurt by the pain I caused you all,” he said. “I had no right to do what I did. No right.”

Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said that Jackson has not shown remorse in the case. He said the proof of that came just after Walton was killed.

“When he was done, you had the best example of lack of remorse you could ever have, in real time,” Cillo said. “He looked at her and said, ‘B—-’ This was a decision that was made by the defendant. This was what he wanted to do, what he chose to do, for his own personal gain.”

Defense attorneys for Jackson have worked to portray Jackson as a victim of a “chaotic” childhood that, coupled with mental issues and low intelligence, led him down a path of crime.

“On the South Side of Chicago in the baddest part of town, if you grow up there, you’re forced to beware of killers, crack dealers, gangbangers, prostitutes and thieves, all of which were in his own house. And when they cast their eye upon young Vincent, that’s when his troubles soon began and our client never recovered from learning the lessons from people with knives and guns in their hands,” attorney J. Anthony Rich said, evoking the lyrics of the Jim Croce song, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.”

During testimony last week, Jackson’s family talked of drug abuse, weapons and domestic violence in their family. His father recounted how his son would skip school and Jackson’s sister described his penchant for brutally torturing cats.

A defense expert, clinical psychologist Dr. John Fabian, testified that those experiences, coupled with his parents’ divorce and his own alcohol and drug abuse, led to several problems. He diagnosed Jackson as suffering from antisocial disorder.

The cumulative effect, defense lawyer Dan Wightman said, should lead to mercy in the case.

“If you’re raised by the devil, you don’t care about other people,” Wightman said.

Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Dezort countered that while Jackson’s family had drug use and brushes with the law, his family still worked to provide him with love. She said his father tried to turn his own troubled life around and pushed for Jackson to avoid the mistakes he had made.

“A lot of people don’t have a fraction of what he had and threw out,” Dezort said.

She also argued that the antisocial disorder diagnosis wasn’t a reason to spare Jackson’s life. She said he was responsible for his crimes despite the problems in his life.

“He’s the one who, every step of the way, chose the wrong path,” Dezort said.

Rich said that Jackson had tried to take responsibility for his actions, trying to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, an offer prosecutors wouldn’t accept. Jackson ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges against him, including aggravated murder, but prosecutors had to prove the capital specifications that carried a possible death sentence to the panel.

While Rich called Walton’s killing a “travesty, tragic,” he argued that it was a quick death and not “the worst of the worst” that would justify a death sentence.

Rich also urged the judges to spare Jackson so that he could be there for his own son, Vincent Jackson III, and help him avoid the making the same mistakes as his father.

“Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done. Walk away from trouble when you can,” Rich said, quoting from the Kenny Rogers song “The Coward of the County.”

The three judges, James Miraldi, John Miraldi and Mark Betleski, deliberated Tuesday afternoon before breaking for the day. They will resume deliberations today.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

  • kmzi

    Another oxygen thief should be put to death for shooting the clerk at Gas USA at point blank range. No excuse.

  • golfingirl

    Jackson says………“I want to cry right now, but I don’t know why I can’t.”

    Maybe because you feel no remorse.

    I feel confident this one will be put to death.

    • Godfather

      I feel that he will get 20 years to life.

      • golfingirl

        I feel he will get death.

      • golfingirl

        Justice demands that those convicted of heinous crimes of cold-blooded murder be sentenced to death. Justice is essentially a matter of ensuring that everyone is treated equally, both the victim and the criminal.

        In my opinion, it is unjust when a criminal deliberately inflicts greater losses on others than he has to bear, in this case murder.

        If the penalties society imposes on criminals are less than those the criminals imposed on their innocent victims, society would be favoring criminals, allowing them to get away with bearing fewer costs than their victims had to bear.

        By inflicting death on those who deliberately inflict death on others, the death penalty ensures justice for all.

        You may contend that the death penalty is inherently immoral because society should never take a human life, no matter what the provocation. But that is an article of faith, not of fact.

        The death penalty honors human dignity by treating the defendant as a free moral character, able to control his own destiny for good or for bad. It does not treat him like an animal with no moral sense. Even an animal does not kill for the enjoyment of killing, but rather out of necessity to survive.

        Mr. Jackson chose his own path, based on his own moral compass, but now those who condemn him to death are somehow morally misguided?

        As a society, we have an obligation to others to prevent them from becoming his next victim. Maybe a prison guard, maybe another inmate, who he meets in prison. Anyone who comes in contact with him is at risk.

        He has proven, not once, but multiple times that the only way to protect others from him is to remove him from the face of this Earth forever.

  • stop ur whining part deux

    Draw and quarter him in public square on prime time television. We start publicly and brutally executing these animals maybe we see a drop in the murder rate.

    • Godfather

      He is not an animal, he is a human.

      And you are one sick twisted mental case.

      • stop ur whining part deux

        Him being a human can easily be debated as only an animal would walk into a convenient store and gun an innocent woman down.

        Furthermore why should a convicted murderer get any humane treatment? When they stole someone’s life was that humane?

        Perhaps if we begin to brutally and publicly execute convicted murderers we can actually make a difference in cutting crime.

  • Godfather

    He can’t be rehabilitated if he is killed.

    Society says it is wrong to kill yet they want to kill him.

  • Godfather

    He can’t be rehabilitated if he is killed.

    Society says it is wrong to kill yet they want to kill him.

  • fortheluvof

    Absolutely no reason for this person not to be exchanging his life for the one he took unless the judges do not believe anyone should die for their crimes.