Jackson able to stand trial

Published 4:00 am Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Goshen man charged with shooting his two sons, fatally wounding one of them, was found competent to stand trial on Friday.

Sammy D. Jackson, 45, is charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder after shooting his sons, then ages 18 and 16, on Nov. 9, 2013. The incident stemmed from a domestic dispute with his then wife, and the 18-year-old died as a result of his injuries.

In her ruling on Friday, Pike County Circuit Judge Shannon Clark said after reviewing testimonies and evidence presented in the hearing and the conduct and behavior of Jackson during court proceedings and while on bond, the court was satisfied that the defendant has the present ability to assist his defense attorney and has a reasonable degree of rational understanding of the facts and legal proceedings.

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District Attorney Tom Anderson said his office was pleased with the ruling.

“We have always believed Mr. Jackson to be competent and aware of the consequences of his actions,” Anderson said. “Now, we can proceed with the trial and seek justice for the victims and this community.”

Jackson had been set to begin his trial Feb. 3 of this year, but hours before the start of his arraignment, prosecutors agreed to another mental evaluation. Thursday’s competency hearing brought testimonies from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Doug McKeown and Dr. Alan Blotcky. McKeown had previously met with Jackson in Sept. 2014 and Blotcky met with Jackson earlier this year on Jan. 27.

Blotcky, testifying on behalf of the defense, said he had evaluated Jackson based on three different cognitive and intellectual tests and testified that Jackson had scored in the “mildly retarded” range with an overall IQ score of 58, but he was just as close to “moderately retarded” and “borderline retarded.” Blotcky ultimately testified that he felt that Jackson was unfit to assist his counsel, stating Jackson lacked “ability with reasonable understanding of facts and legal proceedings.”

McKeown, testifying on behalf of the state, disagreed with Blotcky saying that while Jackson seemed to be of “below average” intelligence, he had “no doubt” that Jackson “had the ability to assist his counsel.”

Since Jackson has been found competent to stand trial, jury selection for the case will begin at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 5 and all pre-trial motions are to be filed no later than 10:30 a.m. Aug. 3. Hearings for any motions filed will be presented at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 4.

Jackson was released on bonds of $100,000 and $50,000 in January 2014.