‘closure’: Goshen man is sentenced to life in prison for son’s murder
Published 3:00 am Friday, February 5, 2016
A Goshen man was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for the 2013 murder of his then 18-year-old son.
In addition to the life sentence, Sammy D. Jackson was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the attempted murder of another son, stemming from the same domestic incident. The sentences will run consecutively.
“Sentencing day for me is always the hardest part of my job,” Circuit Judge Shannon Clark said as she issued her judgment. “I can’t bring Dre back … all I can do is try to administer an appropriate punishment for the crimes.”
Jackson was convicted of killing his eldest son Sammy Demondre (Dre) Jackson, then 18, and shooting his youngest son Shyheim Jackson in November 2013 during a domestic incident at their residence in Goshen.
During both his trial and the sentencing hearing on Thursday, defense attorneys argued that Jackson suffered from mental health issues, including hallucinations; a reduced mental capacity; and alcohol addiction issues.
“Life is always about choices Mr. Jackson,” Clark said. “And while there was testimony that you were suffering from some sort of psychosis (at the time of the murder), that was a result of alcohol abuse … and that is a choice you made.”
Because of that choice, Clark said she was sentencing Jackson to consecutive terms. “To do otherwise would diminish the death of Dre,” she said. Clark also ordered Jackson to undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment as well as substance abuse treatment “that should have been sought when you were a free man.”
The judge reserved a ruling on the issue of restitution, and said Jackson has 42 days to appeal the decision.
Jeff Moore, assistant district attorney, said afterwards he was pleased with the sentence. “We’re very satisfied that we were able to achieve justice for the Jackson family, especially Mrs. Carolyn Jackson and her children,” he said. “It’s been a long, hard road for her.”
Carolyn Jackson, who was in the process of seeking a divorce at the time of the murder, said she was glad to bring resolution to the case. “I’ve been waiting two and a half years to get up there and say what I wanted to say,” she said. “I feel good about what the judge said … now me and my kids can get on with our lives. We are finally going to close this chapter.”
Carolyn Jackson testified on behalf of the state during the sentencing hearing, saying “we had three kids together. On that night (Sammy Jackson) took one of their lives and shot another one … I’m not worried about him being sorry for what he did because my child’s not here.”
When asked by the defense attorney if she could ever forgive Sammy Jackson, she paused. “One day I would have to, I supposed, but right now, that depends on what God places in my heart.”
Their youngest son, Shyheim Jackson, also testified for the state during the hearing, saying his father had robbed him of a brother and of his youth. “It made me become a man early,” said Shyheim, who is now 18. “I had to go out and get a job; my mama can’t work and my sister can’t work.”
And, while he said he thinks about the incident that left his brother dead and left him with a scarred leg, Shyheim Jackson said he has forgiven his father. “Everybody keeps telling me ‘don’t’ but you can’t always hate somebody,” he said.
Annie Jackson testified on behalf of her family during the sentencing hearing, asking the judge to consider a sentence that would allow her brother to be released and to seek treatment. “We don’t feel it’s effective for Sammy to spend the rest of his life in prison,” she said. “He’s a good-hearted person that simply made a mistake that he’s going to regret his whole life …
“We, and his wife, should have stepped up sooner and gotten him help.”