October 21, 2014

Elyria
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Qiana Walton’s family criticizes sentence at hearing

Jeanunnata Walton, mother of Qiana Walton, listens to her husband, Robert, address the court at Vincent Jackson Jr.’s sentencing hearing Monday.  STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Jeanunnata Walton, mother of Qiana Walton, listens to her husband, Robert, address the court at Vincent Jackson Jr.’s sentencing hearing Monday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Robert Walton said Monday that Vincent Jackson Jr. should have been executed for killing his daughter, Qiana Walton, during a 2008 robbery of Gas USA.

“This man deserves the death penalty and you two that voted against the death penalty didn’t do your jobs as far as I’m concerned,” Robert Walton told the panel of three judges, who earlier this month split over whether Jackson, 33, should die for his crimes.

Lorain County Common Pleas judges James Miraldi and John Miraldi voted to spare Jackson, while Judge Mark Betleski had wanted to impose the death penalty. Under Ohio law, the judges must be unanimous in order to hand down a death sentence.

Jackson, who didn’t speak in court Monday, was sentenced to life without parole plus another 19 years behind bars. He had pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and numerous other charges in connection with Qiana Walton’s death but refused to enter a plea to the capital specifications that carried the death penalty.

The judges ultimately found Jackson guilty of those specifications.

Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said Monday that he thought Jackson’s efforts to show remorse by pleading guilty were an effort to save his life, rather than a genuine expression of remorse.

Robert Walton II, father of Qiana Walton,  speaks to the court .

Robert Walton II, father of Qiana Walton, speaks to the court .

Jackson shot Walton once in the head with an AK-47 after she turned off the alarm and handed him $12,000 in cash while he held her at gunpoint. He called her a “b—-” before leaving her dead on the gas station floor.

Cillo said Qiana Walton “was slaughtered so the defendant could try not to be caught.”

He said the justice system had failed Walton’s family and that law enforcement was upset with the life sentence and feared that if an officer was killed, a death sentence wouldn’t be imposed.

“It occurred to me that I was thankful Lady Justice was blindfolded, because at this point I believe she’d be sick to her stomach,” Cillo said.

That comment drew a rebuke from Judge James Miraldi.

“That’s going a little bit too far, Mr. Cillo,” Miraldi said. “Now, if you want to respond, you can, but don’t show contempt for this court. This is not an easy process.”

Robert Walton said he felt the judges didn’t look to the hurt Jackson had caused his family when they made their decision.

“We suffered for her, we felt the pain for her, but not one took her into consideration,” he said.

Vincent Jackson Jr. sits with his attorneys, J. Anthony Rich, left, and Dan Wightman.

Vincent Jackson Jr. sits with his attorneys, J. Anthony Rich, left, and Dan Wightman.

Miraldi said state law sets out the standards under which judges can impose the death sentence and that it can’t be simply a desire for vengeance. Those rules, he said, are designed to prevent the courts from serving public opinion rather than justice and the Constitution.

“Our oath as judges forbids us to consider the nature of the crime, the good character of the victim or sympathy for the survivors or their wishes,” he said.

Defense attorneys had portrayed Jackson as damaged by his upbringing in Chicago by family members who engaged in drug dealing, gang activity, prostitution and other crimes. Prosecutors, however, had argued that despite the criminal activity, Jackson’s family did the best they could to provide him with a loving home.

Robert Walton said he had grown up in a Cleveland ghetto and hadn’t turned to a life of crime. He said he had the advantage of good parents and he tried to do the same for his children.

And now, he said, his daughter was gone.

“The only thing I got of my daughter…” he said, pausing as a family member handed him a cell phone with a photo of Qiana Walton, “…is a picture. That’s all we got, pictures and memories. He took her life. I’m a firm believer in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

But Miraldi said the judges didn’t buy into prosecutors’ arguments, which he thought sounded like they were describing a family just short of the Cleavers from “Leave it to Beaver.”

He said Jackson suffered from antisocial disorder, tortured animals, knew how to freebase cocaine in kindergarten and had engaged in criminal activity himself, including shooting a man in the head when he was still a teenager. The victim in that shooting survived.

The judges did agree to a request from Cillo that Jackson be ordered to pay Walton’s family $7,154.75 to cover funeral expenses, money that will be taken out of Jackson’s prison commissary account. They also said they would recommend that the state prison system put Jackson in solitary confinement for a week each year around Walton’s birthday so that he can contemplate his crimes.

Jackson’s attorneys said their client doesn’t intend to appeal his conviction or sentence because he had been willing to plead guilty to life in prison, an offer prosecutors had rejected.

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


  • LGD

    Dont normally like anything Tony Cillo has to say but on this he is totally correct. The scum who shot that young lady deserved the death penalty.

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    What the heck is wrong with James Miraldi? He didn’t do his job when he refused to sentence Jackson to death, but he has the gall to get mad at Cillo for speaking the truth? James and John Miraldi are disgraces.

    • luvmytoaster

      Thank you Larry, Judge Betleski was the only one with balls in this courtroom – this young lady was not at fault here but the victim – what a shame……

  • nomokids

    My condolences to the family. Let’s remember these judges when its election time and honor her by electing them out. She was at work, earning a living, paying her taxes and likewise paying for the crime bestowed upon her. He should have been put to death for the crime. Period.

    • luvmytoaster

      Thank you for speaking the truth, the Miraldi’s need to be voted out.

  • Mian

    Bad call, Miraldis. Qiana was ruthlessly murdered by an animal to whom you have given a gift of life — something he hardly granted to her.

    You have done a disservice to your constituents and should be ashamed.

  • golfingirl

    The family paid the “price” for the childlike political power struggle that is Lorain County.

    They tried to get back at Tony Cillo, by letting this poor excuse for a human being live.

    Now he gets to eat Aramark food, on the taxpayers dime, for the rest of his life.

    • Michele From Ohio

      And I’m sure he will settle into prison life just fine. He probably already has a boyfriend.

      • golfingirl

        And Matt Lundy will make sure he is well-fed.

  • 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

  • SniperFire

    I remember having that beautiful young lady wait on me at that gas station about a week before this scumbag did his deed. It is beyond me as to why he is still wasting our precious oxygen.

  • Sis Delish

    Dear Judges Miraldi(s): Please include in your sentencing guidelines a budget for direct, closed-circuit TV into this prisoner’s cell so that he might communicate with his grandmother wherever she is incarcerated. On Channel Two of the CCT, please only broadcast the Execution Channel.

    Thank you, The Taxpayers.

  • Nick Noneya

    “Our oath as judges forbids us to consider the nature of the crime, the
    good character of the victim or sympathy for the survivors or their
    wishes,” he said.

    Just what in H3ll do they consider?? How much kickback they get from wherever??

    And exactly what are the “standards”? How much more cruel can one be to another? I wonder what the Miraldis’ would “consider” if they were facing the business end of a AK-47? One can only hope!

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    “Our oath as judges forbids us to consider the nature of the crime…”

    Apparently James and John Miraldi didn’t read 2929.03 or 2929.04 of the Ohio Revised Code. Or maybe they are just too damn stupid to understand the big words?

    I urge all the voters in Lorain County to REMEMBER QIANA WALTON when these poor excuses for judges come up for re-election. And don’t forget to support Mark Betleski, since he’s the only judge in the area with the balls to do the job.

    • Michele From Ohio

      I’ve written down all their names, so I don’t forget when it comes time to vote. Buh BYE.

  • john lewis

    Again, it goes to show that Blacks who represent 12% of the USA population are responsible for 50% of all crime in America. This is a proven statistic. Vincent Jackson is an oxygen thief who should have been given the death penalty hands down.

  • john lewis

    Well, I’ll try again. What you have is black-on-black crime. No one feels sorry for Jackson except the three judges who couldn’t vote the death penalty. And then they threaten the victims with contempt of court when they spoke out. Just another oxygen thief who gets what he deserves in the case of Jackson.

  • unclewicked

    “Our oath as judges forbids us to consider the nature of the crime, the
    good character of the victim or sympathy for the survivors or their
    wishes…”

    So instead of the see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil monkeys, ALL three “judges” should be forced to sit there with their fingers jammed in their ears, whistling Zippididoodah while family members speak at the sentencing hearing, just so that everyone knows they’re following the letter of the law, as they believe it should be.

    #copout

  • Dragonlady

    My sympathy goes out to the Walton family. He should have been sentenced to death. This is not meant to be a consolation, but maybe this way the Walton family is spared the VERY long process of appeals (15+ years) for death row inmates, praying the outcome will be the same, while the killer on death row still has most of the same privileges that a normal inmate does. There are inmates on death row scheduled to die, but after the McGuire fiasco is the death penalty even being implemented?

  • jz

    I do not see how a firing squad with no blindfold would be cruel and unusual punishment in a case like this one.