December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Vincent Jackson Jr. explores possibility of appeal

Vincent Jackson Jr. reacts to his sentencing with attorneys Dan Wightman, left, and J. Anthony Rich on April 9. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Vincent Jackson Jr. reacts to his sentencing with attorneys Dan Wightman, left, and J. Anthony Rich on April 9. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Despite a promise that he wouldn’t appeal his conviction and life prison sentence, Vincent Jackson Jr. has asked for a court-appointed lawyer to represent him on a possible appeal.

Jackson, 33, had been facing the death penalty after a three-judge panel found him guilty of aggravated murder and other charges for gunning down Gas USA clerk Qiana Walton during a June 2008 robbery.

Although Jackson pleaded guilty to the charges against him, the panel held a brief trial before finding him guilty of capital murder specifications, although the judges later declined to impose a death sentence.

The panel of judges split over whether Jackson should be executed for his crimes and he received a sentence of life without parole plus another 19 years in prison. At his sentencing hearing, Jackson’s trial lawyers said their client didn’t intend to appeal.

But trial attorney Dan Wightman said Thursday that Jackson sent him a letter asking for an appeals lawyer. He said Jackson, who has apologized to Walton’s family, hasn’t formally filed an appeal.

“My belief is Vincent Jackson is going to have a conversation with an appointed attorney to discuss what his rights are,” Wightman said.

Even though Jackson didn’t originally plan on appealing doesn’t mean he’s given up his right to do so, Wightman said.

“He has a right to at least discuss what his options are,” he said.

The run up to Jackson’s trial earlier this year was fraught with disagreements between prosecutors and defense lawyers, including over whether Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge could serve on the panel.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor ultimately ruled that because Burge had removed himself from all of Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo’s cases, he could not serve on the panel because Cillo was working on the Jackson case. Burge has since lifted his self-imposed order.

County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi appointed attorney Kreig Brusnahan to represent Jackson in a court order filed Wednesday.

Jackson has already been transferred to the custody of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and Brusnahan said he hopes to visit his new client in prison next week.

“I’ve just been appointed, I have not had an opportunity to talk with my client,” he said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.