Defense attorney displeased with continuance

Published 4:00 am Saturday, August 15, 2015

The defense attorney for a Goshen man charged with murdering his son challenged what he said were misleading statements made by the prosecutor in the wake of a trial continuance this week.

“On Wednesday, we were scheduled to begin trial on this case, however, Judge Clark declared a mistrial in open court due to the untimely disclosure of exculpatory evidence by the District Attorney’s office,” said Sam Dixon, the attorney representing Sammy Jackson. Jackson is charged with murder and attempted murder in conjunction with a November 2013 shooting that left his 18-year-old son and a 16-year-old son injured.

Dixon said that statements made by District Attorney Tom Anderson misrepresented the reason for the delay in Jackson’s trial. Dixon said Anderson did not disclose exculpatory evidence in a timely manner, adding that Circuit Judge Shannon Clark had declared a mistrial in open court.

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However, in the official order filed by Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarborough, the defense’s Motion to Dismiss was denied and a continuance of this matter was issued.

“Though both the state and defense have each filed supplemental discovery on the eve of trial, dismissal of this action as a remedy for the untimely disclosure is an extreme remedy and is inappropriate under the circumstances,” Clark said in her order released on Wednesday. “Though a jury has been struck, they have not been sworn and the trial has not begun. A continuance of this matter is appropriate and will allow the parties additional time to review the supplemental discovery and otherwise prepare for trial.”

Dixon said the evidence in question involves a statement from a key eyewitness who maintains that Jackson was not of sound mind.

“This untimely disclosure of exculpatory evidence was a statement from a key eyewitness that maintained that Mr. Jackson was hallucinating in the 24 hours leading up to and including the events forming the basis of this tragic case,” Dixon said. “Although there was mention of another incident in which Mr. Jackson suffered from hallucinations back in 2005, it is our position this had absolutely nothing to do with the delay and the DAs statements to that effect are false. Evidence that Mr. Jackson was suffering from a mental episode during the incident in question goes directly to our client’s mental state at the time of the offense.”

Dixon said the evidence was wrongly withheld to give the prosecution a “tactical advantage,” which is violation of Jackson’s due process rights.

“In an effort to soften the blow of this unethical behavior, the District Attorney’s office has willfully misrepresented the true nature of the delay due to the misconduct of their office,” Dixon said. “We intend to continue to offer Mr. Jackson a vigorous defense in accordance with his rights under the Constitution of the United States and the State of Alabama.”

Anderson said that he stood by statements made after the continuance Wednesday afternoon.

“I stand by everything that I said,” Anderson said.

Wednesday, Anderson said he had felt it was prudent to disclose the two statements alleging that Jackson had suffered hallucination in 2005 after eating “bad oysters,” but that the deeming of a mistrial or continuation was not what he had expected to happen concerning Jackson’s trial.

“Our office and the victims representatives wanted to have the trial completed this week,” Anderson said. “We see an additional ability through this delay to counter against evidence we suspect they will tender at trial.”

Clark ordered that the defense and state would meet for a status conference and pre-trial hearing Nov. 2 and all pre-trial motions would need to be filed no less than two weeks prior to the pre-trial hearing.