August 28, 2014

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UPDATED: Three-judge panel sentences Vincent Jackson Jr. to life in prison

Vincent Jackson Jr. reacts to his sentencing with attorneys Dan Wightman, left, and J. Anthony Rich on Wednesday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Vincent Jackson Jr. reacts to his sentencing with attorneys Dan Wightman, left, and J. Anthony Rich on Wednesday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Vincent Jackson Jr. will spend the rest of his life in prison for gunning down Qiana Walton during a 2008 robbery, a three-judge panel ruled Wednesday.

Jackson, 33, who could have received a death sentence in the case, appeared relieved by the decision. He will not be eligible for parole.

Walton’s family was largely stoic as the decision was announced.

“It’s over,” Robert Walton, Qiana Walton’s father, said as he and his family left the courtroom, but he otherwise declined to comment.

The decision to let Jackson live was not unanimous among the panel. Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi, along with Judge John Miraldi, voted against a death sentence, while Judge Mark Betleski disagreed.

Jeanunnatta and Robert Walton II, the parents of Qiana Walton. react Wednesday to Vincent Jackson Jr. sentencing verdict at the Lorain County Justice Center

Jeanunnatta and Robert Walton II, the parents of Qiana Walton. react Wednesday to Vincent Jackson Jr. sentencing verdict at the Lorain County Justice Center

Jackson shot Qiana Walton once in the head with an AK-47 on June 14, 2008, while robbing Gas USA, where she worked as a clerk. Jackson fled the store with about $12,000 in cash, but was arrested at his sister’s nearby home hours later following a standoff with police.

Although Jackson apologized to Walton’s family during a statement Tuesday, prosecutors have argued that he wasn’t remorseful. Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo has said Jackson called Walton a “b—-” after shooting her.

“There was no disagreement among us as to how terrible the tragedy was and how unnecessary it was,” James Miraldi said.

But the two Miraldis found that the mitigating evidence presented by Jackson’s defense attorneys detailing his troubled childhood and mental health issues outweighed the circumstances of the crime. Jackson’s plea to the charges against him was also considered an expression of remorse, another factor the judges were able to consider.

James Miraldi said their reasoning would be spelled out in more detail in a written opinion April 21, when Jackson will be formally sentenced. The judges all declined additional comment following the hearing.

During the hearing, Miraldi said serving on the panel a “very sobering experience.”

Defense attorney Dan Wightman said he and fellow lawyer J. Anthony Rich were “confident, but still concerned” going into Wednesday’s hearing to learn their client’s fate.

Wightman said he felt they had presented a good case about how problems in Jackson’s life led him to where he was. He also said that his client had been ready to plead guilty and accept a life prison sentence, but prosecutors refused that offer.

“He didn’t really want to fight this case,” Wightman said.

Jackson eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and other charges, but refused to do so on the capital specifications that carried the potential death sentence. The panel of judges found him guilty of the specifications following a one-day trial last month.

Rich said he didn’t want to say much about Wednesday’s decision because, despite getting the outcome he was seeking, the case remained a tragedy.

“I don’t want to say anything more out of respect for the Walton family,” he said. “This is nothing to gloat about. It’s nothing to be happy about.”

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said he felt the nature of Jackson’s crimes warranted the death penalty, which is why his office had pushed for it. But he also said the decision has been made and there is no appeal.

“I do not have to agree with any court’s decision, but I do have to accept it and abide by it,” he said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

  • stop ur whining part deux

    Another EPIC fail. How does executing a woman point blank not garner a lethal injection? Shame on all three of those judges.

    • oldruss

      Read the story again. The Judges James and John Miraldi voted against the death penalty, while the third judge apparently voted to executed this murderer.

      • Michele From Ohio

        Don’t forget to vote against James and John Miraldi the next election cycle and get them off the bench. That might help bring the Walton family some peace.

    • Godfather

      No, killing someone would be a fail.

      • Starryeyes63

        Still haven’t gotten over that Fillagi got the needle huh????

        • stop ur whining part deux

          He totally deserved to die a terrible death. Should have tortured that scumbag.

          • Starryeyes63

            And Burge (aka The Godfather) was his attorney…..

      • stop ur whining part deux

        Executing a convicted murderer is called justice sir. Our criminal justice system is and has been an incredibly bad joke for quite some time. We need harsh punishment to get thru to the heart of criminality.

        You start publicly executing those on death row in a brutal fashion I assure you that the murder rate drops significantly.

        • HankKwah

          It’s not so much putting them to death, it’s the not coddling them while they’re behind bars. “3 hots and a cot” is a crock. Put’em on chain gangs, hard detail, do something, but stop taking care of them. They’re treated better than senior citizens in nursing homes. The elderly are on limited income, have myriad health problems and are limited by Medicare/Medicaid, but these convicted felons have access to everything.

          • stop ur whining part deux

            No, that is the punishment you hand to the other inmates. Murderers forfeit even that treatment.

          • HankKwah

            I’m not sure I’m following you. What’s the punishment? Please explain, because it sounds like you know a bit more about this than I do.

          • stop ur whining part deux

            I, like you believe that if you are in prison you should have a hard, terrible sentence. Work a chain gang, 3 hots and a cot. But i believe that is all criminals fate minus murderers. Murderers forfeit the right to even that life. They should receive a much worse fate. Torture them to death. Live TV. Draw and quarter them in public square in primetime with a live audience. Show people what awaits them if you take someones life

          • HankKwah

            The only drawback to the public torture/death, that I see, is the same problem I have with these teens/young adults that go on shooting/killing sprees are apprehended: They get their kicks because now they’re in the news, their faces and names will now live in infamy. They don’t care that they are looked upon as villains, they’re out to make themselves famous. And by the press doing this, other twisted minds see this and think the same: Look how famous he is!!! I want to be like that.

            And thanks for the explanation.

  • Barbara Radke

    Wow, just wow. I guess maybe it’s cheaper to keep him in general population than death row for 20 years.If that’s the case good call.

    • HankKwah

      In general population, he’s got a better chance of getting his a$$ beat down.

  • Ex_Subscriber

    Is this correct?
    “Betleski dissented from the life sentence, James Miraldi said.”
    Don’t you mean death sentence? This is a confusing piece of reporting.

    • rlm_Lorain

      I think he means that Betleski wanted the death penalty and the other 2 voted for life in prison.

      • golfingirl

        That is correct. Only Betleski wanted death.

        Should have just allowed Burge to remain on the panel.

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    Run these dumba$$ judges out of town.

    • Godfather

      Thats why he is in charge, not you.

      • golfingirl

        I think you are still sore Judge Burge, since they wouldn’t allow you to make it unanimous that this creep lives.

  • golfingirl

    His “tearless” apology must have been quite compelling.

    I think the blame should be placed on the “assault” weapon. I mean, without that murderous weapon, this would never have happened.

    Sentence the rifle to the death penalty. Vincent was a really nice guy, until it fell into his hands.

    • Bob Sweatt

      LOL.

      Don’t forget he also had a troubled childhood.

      • golfingirl

        I love how in the photo above, he appears as though he is looking up to heaven.

        Repenting his sins to God.

        Coincidence the CT posted this as their cover photo? Makes him look so angelic.

        • Mark B

          That’s the Liberal Way , why would you expect anything different from the CT ?

          • golfingirl

            Noticed the photo has now been changed.

          • Godfather

            Yea that sucks. I like the other one that you liked golfingerl.

        • Godfather

          I agree with you golfingurl. He does appear to be looking up to heaven, saying; Im sorry for my sins.

          Now he can be rehabilitated, not murdered.

          Bless you golfingrlsl

          • golfingirl

            And bless you, Judge Burge.

          • michelle

            rehabilitated to what purpose?

          • Bob

            don’t waste you breath. he can’t explain why you should rehabilitate someone who will never be in society ever again.

            Rehabilitating this animal is like putting a battery into a car that has no engine. Just doesn’t make any sense to me.

      • Godfather

        Hate to say it, but YOU WERE WRONG BOBBY.

        You mad brah?

        • Bob Sweatt

          How was I wrong. All I said is that the animal deserved the death penalty.

          The bleeding hearts felt bad for him and gave him life in prison. Which like I said. Either way he dies in a prison. Never to be apart of society again. No matter how much “help” he gets. It will all be for not. The only skills he need is how to be a good princess or a good license plate maker.

          • Godfather

            Amen. I

          • Godfather

            I am just so glad your on board and see things my way now Bobby.

          • Bob Sweatt

            Oh no. I am far from being a bleeding heart like you.

            There was no justice for the poor woman killed

          • golfingirl

            Save your “Amens” for the family of the innocent victim when you pray for them.

    • Godfather

      Do you ever shut up? You are incorrect. Every time you say something you make yourself look more stupid.

      Thanks!

      • golfingirl

        Thank you for your comments.

        Have a nice weekend.

    • Starryeyes63

      Burge as never gotten over the fact that Fillagi got the needle………

  • golfingirl

    Oh well, now he can spend the next several years playing meat puppets with his new friends.

    • Godfather

      Your so silly! But yes, and watching tv and reading and studying. He has a lot to be thankful for.

      • Larry Crnobrnja

        *you’re

      • golfingirl

        Godfather = Judge Burge

  • golfingirl

    Now the “rehabilitation” process begins.

    I look forward to future stories touting his contributions to society, which he was capable of providing, only because these “wise” judges spared his life.

    • Godfather

      speak on it! amen!

      • golfingirl

        And I look forward to YOUR contribution in his rehabilitation and return as a productive member of society.

        Sparing his life does not equate to rehabilitating his life.

        Maybe he can become the most prolific license plate maker in the prison system. Or perhaps, he can come up with a new, more cost effective way to make meat loaf to feed his fellow inmates?

        I look forward to hearing about his success stories in the future.

        • Godfather

          Me too. I am with you golfingirly. You speak the truth.

          He will be rehabilitated I think. He seems very remorseful.

          Today is a good day.

          • golfingirl

            Thank you for your comments Judge Burge.

      • michelle

        that was sarcasm from golfing girl.

  • ekwaykway

    Should feed all lifers processed meat and heavily salted snack treats. Get rid of ‘em quicker that way. Or fast food, yeah, that’ll do the trick.

    • Joe Smith

      Bread and water

    • Godfather

      How about feeding them fresh veggies from the gardens they can grow, and they can also share the wonderful food they grow with society?

      Thats rehabilitation. Amen.

      • golfingirl

        What are they going to grow…marijuana?

      • Joe Smith

        Why rehab a person who is spending the rest of their life in prison?

      • golfingirl

        Thank you for your opinion Judge Burge.

  • Nick Noneya

    Now we get to feed and house his sorry A** for the next 50 + years. Miraldis’ must be Democraps. Want to garner votes!

    • Godfather

      We? Shame on you Nick. You sound like a bad seed.

  • givemeabreak1234

    I knew this was going to happen. You pushed Burge out and guess what you still didn’t get the death penalty. What do you expect? You are fools to think you can push one out and the rest are going to give you your way.

  • jz

    Like I said before. Firing squad no blindfold. No one will convince me that is cruel and unusual punishment after what he did.

    • Godfather

      Well it is. This is not the 1920′s. Murder is wrong no matter who commits it.

      GOT IT? good.

      Thanks!

      • Joe Smith

        Justifiable homicide

      • golfingirl

        You are correct, it is 2014 and the Supreme Court has ruled the Death Penalty is a permitted form of punishment.

        GOT IT? good.

        I really am beginning to believe you are Judge Burge writing under a “pen name.”

        Thanks!!

        • Godfather

          Such anger in you goofygirl. You need to go take some classes.

          Try Terry Kellman Counseling in Westlake.

          They can help you.

          • golfingirl

            Thank you for your “help” Judge Burge.

            I suggest you seek counseling to treat your “wussy” complex, and your delusions that a cold-blooded murderer can be rehabilitated.

      • jz

        I do not know what you are talking about. I,m advocating a firing squad for the murderer with no blindfold. How could you misinterpret what I,m saying?

  • Lee Franklin

    I bet if one of the judges relatives had been shot point blank in the head he would have received the death penalty….. what a couple of dicks

  • Bob

    You can put a man on trial, but you can’t make the guilty pay
    And you can cage an animal, but you can’t take away the rage

    • Godfather

      And you are still a rat on a cage?

  • tommtomm

    awww poor baby its cause my mommas a crack head and she didnt know who the daddy was, give me a break. an eye for an eye. take him and shoot him with an ak47. lorain county justice system at its finest. epd should have shot this POS when they found him do the world a favor another loser out of the world

  • me101

    Why on Earth would a gas station keep $12.000 on hand?? And in that area? It makes for an attempt to rob, The poor family of the victim!! I wish the guy would have got the death penalty. .