By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
MISSOULA - Accused killer Laurence Jackson Jr. went through a rollercoaster of emotions as he was transported to jail in Havre following the fatal shooting of a Blaine County deputy last year.
Jackson, 27, leaned forward Monday in state District Court in Missoula, trying to make out his statements as an audio recording of that trip was played for jurors at his trial.
On the tape, Jackson could be heard pleading and whimpering: "I didn't do anything." "Please help me." "It wasn't me, please."
"He was yelling, hollering, growling, in and out of emotions," Blaine County sheriff's deputy Pat Pyette told jurors. "He said he didn't want to go to prison. He said he was covering for someone else" but that he didn't know who, Pyette testified.
Jackson, 27, of Harlem is accused of wrestling a gun away from deputy Joshua Rutherford and fatally shooting him in the chest, then turning the gun on deputy Loren Janis, wounding his left arm, after the two responded to a domestic dispute complaint involving Jackson on May 29, 2003. Jackson is charged with one count of deliberate homicide and one count of attempted deliberate homicide. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty if he is convicted.
Jackson's former girlfriend, Mari Lynn Blackbird, described how the day unfolded.
Blackbird said she began drinking with a neighbor about 9:30 a.m. She said Jackson soon joined them, drinking a mixture of Kool-Aid and Everclear alcohol. Blackbird said Jackson left after awhile, and she continued to drink with her friend. She said she didn't see Jackson again until she arrived at the home she shared with Jackson about 10 p.m. that night.
Blackbird told jurors she called the Blaine County Sheriff's Office after she found Jackson inside the trailer, holding the door closed so she couldn't get in.
When she tried again to open the door she saw Jackson. He had blood on his shirt, she said.
Jackson seemed intoxicated as well, she added.
Blackbird's mother, Jacki Weasel, who had given Blackbird and her children a ride home that night, urged her to call the police.
Blackbird said she called the sheriff's office from a cell phone at her cousin's home across the street. She said Jackson jumped out of the back door of the trailer, where there were no steps. She said she didn't see him again that night.
After Jackson ran from her trailer, Blackbird said she went inside her home and found it ransacked.
"It was trashed," she told jurors. "The table was busted, glass all over the floor ."
Weasel told jurors that she was outside Blackbird's trailer when Rutherford arrived in a marked patrol vehicle. She said the deputy, who was off duty, was wearing "street clothes and a cap."
Weasel said she spoke briefly with Rutherford, directing him to where Jackson was hiding in the bushes. She said Jackson ran and Rutherford started after him, shouting commands. She said she couldn't specifically remember what Rutherford yelled.
"Everything happened so fast," she said.
Debbie Green, Blackbird's neighbor, also testified Monday. Green said her husband awakened her that night to go outdoors to check on the commotion. Outside, she said she could hear sounds coming from the other side of a ditch near her home. Green said she recognized the voice of Rutherford yelling, "Please stop, don't do this."
She began following and eventually ended up near U.S. Highway 2, where she came across Janis in his patrol car. Green said she and her husband told Janis where she last saw the two men, who had crossed the highway.
"That's when it got crazy," Green said.
Green, now with her husband and 14-year-old son, said she heard some loud sounds. Then her husband yelled, "Those are gunshots. Get down."
She said her family continued down the highway to Janis's car, when she heard another round of gunshots. She said she saw Janis, holding a flashlight, weaving through the field back to his patrol vehicle.
"As we got closer, we could see that he had blood on him. I was very scared. I knew Loren had been hurt," Green told jurors.
Green said she sent her son to a gas station to call for help, while her husband helped Janis radio for backup. Then a man, not wearing a shirt, approached the patrol car.
"I was screaming, I was screaming," she said. "I said, 'He's coming, he's coming."
Green said Janis yelled at the man, whom she identified as Jackson, and told him to "Stop, and put your hands up."
Green said Jackson continued to come closer. She remembered him saying, "Go ahead and (expletive) shoot me. I'm not going to prison."
She said Jackson continued to approach Janis, eventually putting his hands up, but then he dropped one of his hands down into the weeds again, which she said were knee high.
"You could not see where his hand was," she testified.
Green said Jackson got on the ground and took off his pants, then stood up again and continued walking toward Janis and the patrol vehicle.
"I think he wanted to prove that he didn't have the gun," she told jurors.
Janis sent her husband to check on Rutherford, and asked another resident, Scott Baker, who had turned up at the scene, to handcuff Jackson and bring him back to the patrol car, Green said.
As soon as Jackson was inside the vehicle, Janis collapsed to the ground.
"He was having a hard time standing up," Green said.
Also on Monday, Dan Friede, a paramedic with the Chinook ambulance crew, said he examined Jackson while the suspect was handcuffed and sitting in the back of the patrol vehicle, soon after the shooting.
Friede said he noted a 1-inch abrasion on Jackson's lower right abdomen, which Jackson initially told him was the result of a gunshot wound. But an examination ruled that out, and he suspected it could have come from barbed wire, Friede told the jury. Jackson also had a laceration above one eye, he added.
Friede testified that Jackson did not seem intoxicated.
"The patient carried on a decent conversation. He was quite coherent," he said. "He was actually pretty calm."
Friede compared Jackson to a child who is caught after doing something wrong, knowing he will have to pay the consequences.
"He was very resigned," he added.
Friede also testified that he didn't smell pepper spray on Jackson, but noticed a distinct metallic smell of dried blood and sweat.
Pyette said he arrived after Jackson was in custody. He said Jackson's behavior was erratic.
"He banged his head into the window a couple of times" while in the patrol car, Pyette said.
Pyette and deputy Dean Wilkinson transported Jackson to the Hill County Detention Center after the shooting.
According to a police report filed by Pyette following the transport, Pyette stated, "Jackson would make a deep screaming howling noise. I thought this man was under the influence of some narcotic."
Testimony was to resume this morning. The state is looking to wrap up its case this week. Witnesses for the defense may be called to testify as early as Friday. Jackson's trial is expected to last up to three weeks.