By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
MISSOULA - Jurors took their first look Thursday at injuries Laurence Dean Jackson Jr. suffered on May 29, 2003, the day prosecutors say he killed a Blaine County sheriff's deputy and wounded another. One wound in particular may play an important role in Jackson's defense as his attorneys prepare to present their case next week.
Photographs of injuries to Jackson's head, legs and right abdominal area were admitted into evidence Thursday. The photos were taken by George Tate, Havre assistant police chief, at the Hill County Detention Center just hours after Jackson was arrested.
Jackson, 27, of Harlem is charged with one count of deliberate homicide in the shooting death of Blaine County sheriff's deputy Joshua Rutherford and one count of attempted deliberate homicide in the wounding of deputy Loren Janis in a shootout in a field near Harlem.
The prosecution alleges that Jackson wrestled Rutherford's Glock .40-caliber service handgun away from the deputy and shot him with it, then turned the gun on Janis, who returned fire. The deputies were responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Jackson's trial began last week in Missoula.
Several photographs jurors examined showed a wound, which Tate described as a "large abrasion," on Jackson's right abdominal area near his hip.
Forensic expert Kay Sweeney, who was hired by the defense, has said physical evidence he gathered shows that Rutherford was killed by a bullet fired by Janis that grazed Jackson's right waist area before hitting Rutherford in the chest.
In opening statements, defense attorney Bob Peterson said that microscopic particulates of fatty tissue were found on Rutherford's shirt, which may have come from the wound on Jackson's waist area.
Tate, who testified in court Thursday, said that he applied a gunshot residue kit to Jackson's hands and face about 12:20 a.m. on May 30, 2003. He said he observed that Jackson had very red eyes, a laceration on his head above his left eye and a large wound on his abdomen.
"He had blood on his face, some blood on his chest and stomach area," Tate added.
Tate said he obtained a search warrant from Hill County Justice of the Peace Terry Stoppa, which gave him permission to draw blood, test the blood on Jackson's skin and take his boxer brief shorts - which was all Jackson was wearing when he was arrested.
After Tate served the warrant at the detention center, he took 69 swabs of blood from various parts of Jackson's body. Tate said that while taking swabs from Jackson's face he noticed an odor he recognized as pepper spray.
Tate then took photographs of injuries on Jackson's body, which included his head lacerations, abdominal injury and bruising on his right calf. The jurors viewed the injury photos Thursday.
Jackson's blood was drawn at Northern Montana Hospital about 5:30 a.m. Testing showed his blood alcohol content at 0.08, seven hours after the incident in the field. Jackson's head injuries were treated at the hospital and he was also decontaminated for pepper spray, Tate told jurors.
Tate said the evidence he gathered from Jackson was taken to the evidence room at Havre City Hall.
Tate said he photographed Jackson's injuries again on June 1, 2003. He also collected hair samples and administered a buccal swab test for DNA comparison.
Tate took the stand again this morning for cross-examination by the defense.
The prosecution began calling witnesses last Thursday. The defense is expected to present its case sometime next week.