Articles from the Tulsa World Herald and other sources
- In Tulsa, a man accused of beating toddler Oz Decator and killing the boy's
mother is scheduled for trial Nov. 9. The
trial date for Shelton Jackson was set Wednesday along with an Oct. 9 date for a
discovery hearing. Jackson, 25,
could face the death penalty if convicted of 1st-degree murder in the April 7,
1997, slaying of his girlfriend, 23-year-old Monica Denise Decator.
9/3/98 - A judge on Wednesday scheduled a Nov. 9 jury trial for Shelton Jackson, who was charged 17 months ago with murder and two related counts in the Oz and Monica Decator case. This is the first trial date set in the highly publicized case in nine months. A year ago Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris placed it on a Dec. 1, 1997, trial docket, but that was later stricken when it was apparent that pre-trial issues had not been resolved. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if Jackson, 25, is convicted of first-degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of Monica Denise Decator, 23. Jackson also is charged with arson, linked to a fire at the 1213 E. Second St. residence where her body was discovered. Jackson faces a third felony count linked to injuries sustained by Monica's son, Oz, then 2 years old, whose survival and recovery after being left abandoned in the cold beneath a vacant house for many hours generated an outpouring of support from across the country. Oz, who recently observed his fourth birthday, underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital in the summer of 1997 to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home. Harris on Wednesday scheduled an Oct. 9 status conference for lawyers to review any remaining issues regarding exchange of witness and evidence information among attorneys. Assistant District Attorney Jerry Truster said the Nov. 9 date looks "pretty firm" and that prosecutors will be ready to proceed. Chief Public Defender Pete Silva indicated that the mental capability of his client Jackson "will be an issue" in the event that the trial reaches a sentencing stage. After his April 1997 arrest, Jackson said he had "just lost it" and threw the boy against the floor when Oz "wouldn't stop crying," a police officer said. He said he believed that Oz "was doing this on purpose to irritate him," Detective Tom Fultz testified previously. According to police, Jackson said he hit Monica, his live-in girlfriend, with a brick and stabbed her. Jackson is in the Tulsa Jail.
11/10/98 - "Every day is work" for little Oz Decator, according to his grandmother, who brought the boy back to Tulsa for Monday's start of the trial of the man accused of severely injuring him and murdering his mother. Jury selection is under way in the trial of Shelton Jackson, who faces a possible death penalty if he is convicted of first- degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of Monica Denise Decator, 23. Questioning of prospective jurors resumes Tuesday in Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris's court. Jackson, who was identified by police as Monica Decator's boyfriend, also faces an arson count stemming from a fire at the Tulsa residence where her body was discovered. He faces a third felony count linked to injuries that were sustained by Decator's son, Oz, then 2. The boy's survival and recovery after being beaten and abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a massive outpouring of concern and support. Oz, now 4, sustained brain damage and underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home. He was brought in a stroller to the Tulsa County Courthouse on Monday. He is not walking and not talking and has other physical limitations, grandmother Mary Decator said. When asked how Oz communicates, she said, "He will look at you and smile." Oz still undergoes regular therapy and "is scooting," she said. Concerning the chance for substantial long-range improvement, "no one is really sure," she said. The trial process will be "extremely hard, but we are going to make it through this," Oz's grandmother said. She is listed as a potential prosecution witness. A year ago, Harris rejected a defense request for a change of venue based on the enormous amount of publicity that the case -- and Oz's plight and progress -- attracted. If responses from potential jurors indicate a problem in seating a fair and impartial panel, defense lawyers can again ask to have the case moved to another county. "We will listen very, very carefully" to prospective jurors during the selection process, Chief Public Defender Pete Silva said. There is evidence that Jackson, 25, "came from a very impoverished background, not only monetarily, but in terms of suffering abuse at the hands of an alcoholic stepfather," Silva has said. Regarding the outcome of the trial, Mary Decator said, "I try to let God be the judge. I just want justice."
- In a case that touched the hearts of Tulsans 19 months ago, jury selection is
scheduled to begin Monday for the trial of Shelton Jackson, who is charged with
severely injuring Oz Decator and murdering the little boy's mother.
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty if Jackson, 25, is convicted of
1st-degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of Monica Denise Decator, 23.
He is also charged with arson, stemming from a fire at the Tulsa
residence where her body was discovered.
11/14/98 - A jury was seated Friday for the trial of Shelton Jackson, who a prosecutor said "brutally beat" and stabbed Monica Decator to death after severely injuring her 2-year- old son, Oz, and before starting a residential fire "in order to cover up what had happened." An eight-man, four-woman panel, plus two female alternates, was picked to hear the case after a selection process that consumed about 3 ] days in Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris' courtroom. During the selection process, 37 prospective jurors were excused from service for various reasons, including illness, attitudes toward punishment and the case and lawyers' challenges, with no stated reason required. Three of the first four prosecution witnesses testified about the work schedule of Monica Decator and her relationship with Jackson, who lived with her at 1213 E. Second St. The fourth witness testified about spotting a fire at that address and directing an acquaintance to call for emergency help. Those opening witnesses drew either minimal or no cross- examination from the defense. Jackson faces a possible death sentence if he is convicted of first- degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of Monica Decator, 23. Jackson, 25, also faces an arson count stemming from the fire at the duplex where her body was discovered. He faces a third felony count linked to injuries sustained by Oz, whose survival and recovery after being beaten and abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a massive outpouring of concern and support. Oz, now 4, sustained brain damage and underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home. In an opening statement to jurors Friday, District Attorney Chuck Richardson said Monica Decator was a hard-working hospital employee who grew up in Louisiana and moved to Tulsa "for a new start." Evidence will show that while she was at work on April 7, Jackson beat Oz, shook him violently and threw him against a wall in an effort "to make him stop crying," the prosecutor said. Testimony will establish that Jackson knew that he had hurt Oz but went to an uncle's house to watch wrestling on television and went to a video store instead of seeking medical help for the boy, Richardson told jurors. In a brief opening statement, Chief Public Defender Pete Silva urged jurors to listen to the testimony and remember the evidence that comes from the witness stand. Silva has said the defense is "concentrating our efforts" on a potential sentencing stage of the trial, which is expected to run through next week.
11/17/98 - Investigators: Man set blaze to hide killing - Gasoline and blood stains were detected in a burned duplex where Monica Denise Decator's bludgeoned body was discovered 19 months ago, investigators told a Tulsa jury on Monday. "I believe this was an intentionally set fire," testified David Hayes, chief investigator for the Tulsa Fire Department. Decator had "major injuries to her head" and apparent "stab wounds to her chest, which are real typical in bludgeoning-type victims," Police Detective Roy Heim said. Decator's body was not burned in the April 8, 1997, fire at the 1213 E. Second St. residence that she shared with her 2-year-old son, Oz, and with Shelton Jackson, evidence indicated. Jackson, 25, faces a possible death penalty if he is convicted of murdering the 23-year-old woman. Jackson is also on trial on a count of injuring Oz, whose survival and recovery after being severely hurt and left abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a widespread outpouring of concern and support in the highly publicized case. Oz, now 4, sustained brain damage and underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home. Much of Monday's testimony focused on an arson count, linked to the fire that prosecutors allege Jackson deliberately set in order to cover up the other crimes. Officials said that although the fire apparently was set in a back room, the odor of gasoline was detectable when they approached the front door. Hayes said appliances -- including a gas stove and a water heater -- were checked and that accidental or natural causes were eliminated as possible sources of the fire, which apparently did not spread because of a lack of oxygen. Roland Pogue Jr., forensic chemist with the police laboratory, said gasoline was detected on magazines, carpet and a blanket that were recovered from the home. Heim said Decator's purse was found inside the front door, with its contents "emptied out." Multiple blood stains were found on a bed and dresser, indicative of "projected blood," he said. Bloodied areas were found at a height of less than 2 feet, "indicating the impact was just above the floor level," Heim testified. Two kitchen knives were recovered near the bed, he said. Prosecutors contend that Jackson beat Monica Decator with a brick and stabbed her with a knife in the chest and neck. Ron LeMaster, then a Tulsa police officer, conducted a search with a police dog in the back yard of the duplex one day after the woman's body was discovered. He said his dog, trained to detect a human scent, alerted him to a brick in the yard. The dog "wouldn't take his nose off this brick," said LeMaster, now an investigator with the District Attorney's Office. Testimony resumes Tuesday in the court of District Judge Jesse Harris.
- In Tulsa, Shelton Jackson stared blankly ahead Wednesday as a jury pronounced
him guilty in the death of his pregnant girlfriend and beating of her young son.
The panel took a little more than 3 1/2 hours to convict Jackson, 25, on
charges of 1st-degree murder, arson and injury to a child.
He faces a possible a death sentence.
Jurors had viewed a videotaped statement in which Jackson admitted
beating and stabbing 23-year-old Monica Denise Decator after injuring her son,
Oz, then age 2.
11/19/98 - A Tulsa jury on Wednesday found Shelton Jackson guilty of murdering Monica Decator and injuring her 2-year-old son, Oz, in what a prosecutor categorized as a "brutal, painful and ugly" case. Jurors return to the courtroom of District Judge Jesse Harris on Thursday for the sentencing stage of a trial in which the death penalty is a possibility. An eight-man, four-woman panel that deliberated more than three hours convicted Jackson of first- degree murder in the beating-stabbing slaying of his girlfriend, Decator. Her body was discovered April 8, 1997, in her burning 1213 E. Second St. residence. The jury found Jackson guilty of injuring her son, Oz, whose survival and recovery after being severely hurt and left abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a widespread outpouring of concern and support. Dr. Terence Carey, a physician who cared for Oz during his two-month stay at St. John Medical Center, testified that the team of doctors that treated the boy "didn't really expect him to live, to be quite honest with you." Based on the severe injuries that he sustained, "I would be very surprised if Oz Decator would ever be able to speak," Carey told jurors. The boy suffered "severe permanent brain damage" and "will need help for the rest of his life," he said. During the doctor's testimony, jurors saw color photos depicting Oz's injuries literally from head to toe. The jury also found Jackson guilty of first-degree arson in the residential fire. Jackson, 25, did not testify. The defense presented no witnesses in the guilt-or-innocence stage ot the trial but is expected to call several witnesses during the punishment phase. In support of their request for the death penalty, District Attorney Chuck Richardson and co-prosecutor Mark Collier plan to present evidence Thursday of the impact of Decator's death on her family members, some of whom reacted emotionally to the guilty verdicts. The other punishment options for first-degree murder are life in prison or life without the possibility of parole. The child-injury count carries a maximum sentence of life. Chief Public Defender Pete Silva has said jurors will hear that Jackson emerged from an impoverished background, was abused as a child and has previously had a positive impact on other lives. In a closing argument, Collier theorized that Jackson "was desperate to think of a plan" and "ambushed" Decator because he knew he had seriously harmed Oz by choking him and throwing him against the floor or wall. In a taped statement, Jackson contended that Decator, 23, came at him with a butcher knife during an argument. Prosecutors maintained that blood and other evidence at the house demonstrated that there was no fight, and Richardson said Jackson "beat her to a pulp" before stabbing her. Silva said there was "no evidence that this was one of those battling domestic situations" and said there was no testimony to indicate that Jackson has a history of violence.
11/20/98 - Prosecutors say the defense is trying to make excuses for the convicted killer - A jury that is destined to deliberate whether Shelton Jackson avoids or receives the death penalty for the murder of Monica Decator heard Thursday from defense witnesses who testified that he had a positive impact on other lives despite early experiences of abuse and neglect. Family members of both Decator and Jackson, plus expert witnesses, took the witness stand as testimony proceeded into the evening in the sentencing stage of Jackson's trial. Testimony ended shortly before 8:30 p.m., and jurors will return Friday to hear closing arguments and deliberate punishment. On Wednesday, jurors found Jackson guilty of first-degree murder in the beating-stabbing slaying of his 23-year-old girlfriend, Decator. Her body was discovered April 8, 1997, in her burning Tulsa residence. That fire resulted in a first-degree arson conviction for Jackson. Jurors also will sentence Jackson for injuring Decator's 2-year-old son, Oz, whose recovery after being severely hurt and left abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a widespread outpouring of concern and support. Dr. Mary Wanda Draper, a human development specialist retained by the defense, testified about Jackson's "life path" and said he is the product of a poverty-stricken, "very disorganized" family background. He was abused by a stepfather and other male relatives. The "janitor at school had to bathe him because he wasn't bathed at home," Draper said. Jackson was placed in a Louisiana juvenile facility at age 12 for petty criminal conduct committed "in the hope" that he would be removed from an abusive family situation, she said. District Attorney Chuck Richardson questioned whether Draper was "looking for an excuse" for why Jackson "beat a little kid within inches of his life." Draper said, "There is no excuse." Dr. Cecile Guin, a Louisiana social worker testifying for the defense, said the two most significant factors in Jackson's development were poverty and his "early propulsion into the juvenile justice system" in Louisiana. Jackson spent 3 years in a juvenile facility, where he was beaten and victimized by other boys and his stay was extended because officials "couldn't find his family," Guin said. "There is not one drop of controversy about whether he was picked on in this institution," she said. The Department of Justice has investigated Louisiana youth facilities at length for "systematic abuse," Guin said. Prosecutors contended that testimony and opinions provided by Draper and Guin relied on inaccurate accounts of what happened in the Decator case and depended on undocumented information provided by the defendant. Mary Decator, Monica's mother, told jurors that she cries every day over the loss of her daughter. "I cry myself to sleep," she said. "I hurt -- not some of the time, but all of the time. The pain doesn't go away." She said she is "about to lose the family home" because she is unable to work while taking care of Oz. Oz, now 4, does not walk or talk. Prosecutors had sought to have him appear in court during the sentencing stage, but Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris decided that would be "too prejudicial," First Assistant District Attorney Mark Collier said. Otherine Moore, Jackson's mother, said she was 14, drinking and living on the street when she was pregnant with the defendant. She didn't send him birthday or Christmas cards during his 3 1/2 years in a juvenile institution because "I didn't think about it." Two Louisiana men testified that Jackson had a positive influence on them during stressful periods of their lives. Other witnesses said Jackson had participated in beneficial community outreach programs in Tulsa and Louisiana.
- A death
sentence was handed to Shelton DeWayne Jackson on Friday night for the beating
and stabbing death of Monica Decator last year. The
jury, which was instructed to begin deliberating before noon, sent word about
9:30 p.m. that it had decided what punishments Jackson should receive for
murdering Monica Decator, severely harming her 2-year-old son, Oz, and setting
fire to their house. The 8-man,
4-woman panel imposed the maximum penalty of life with parole possible, plus a
$5,000 fine, for Jackson's abuse of Oz. Jackson also received the
maximum-possible 35-year prison sentence and a $25,000
fine for the arson.
11/22/98 - Convicted killer was an uncle to 2-year-old beaten to death - A bizarre and tragic connection links Oz Decator, who was severely beaten and left for dead last year when he was 2, and Kevin Moore, who was beaten to death in June when he was 14 months old. The mother of the man who was sentenced to death Friday for killing Monica Decator and given a life sentence for injuring Monica's son, Oz, was Kevin's grandmother. Otherine Jackson Moore testified during the sentencing phase of her son Shelton DeWayne Jackson's trial on Thursday, saying she was a 14-year-old runaway when she became pregnant with him. She said she drank alcohol daily and that Jackson's stepfather imposed discipline on him and his little sister. "He whipped them with belts and switches and extension cords," she said. Sometimes she had to make him stop hitting Jackson, she said. A child abuse expert said Friday that the correlation between being abused and becoming an abuser is clear in many cases. Moore's grandson, Kevin Moore, was found dead June 6. Police have charged Carlous Lougene Jackson, 41, with murder in that case. He is being held without bail in the Tulsa Jail. Shelton Jackson, 25, was the uncle of Kevin Moore. Officials said they do not think the two Jackson families are related. When they were abused, Oz and Kevin each reportedly were being cared for by their mothers' boyfriends while the mothers were at work. Police officers in the separate cases said both men admitted having beaten the boys because the children wouldn't stop crying. Kevin Jackson's mother, Kimberly Moore, 17, is Otherine Moore's youngest daughter. Kimberly Moore was 13 when she had her first child. After the verdict was reached Friday night, Shelton Jackson's mother comforted another daughter, Monica Moore, saying, "Give it to God, Monica. Give it to God." "I wonder how she (Otherine Moore) feels," Mary Decator, Oz's grandmother, had wondered aloud earlier Friday as she watched over the boy, whose injuries left him with severe brain damage. Decator said she wished no harm on Otherine Moore because of what the woman's son had done to her own daughter and grandchild. The two women might share a lot of feelings because of the tragedies, but Decator said the loss of her daughter was different from losing a grandchild. "You love your grandchild, but your child that came from your body was part of you," she said. Mary Decator, who was a police officer in Monroe, La., before resigning to take care of Oz, said she had just attended a police officers training course in family violence when her 23-year-old daughter was killed and Oz was attacked. Tulsa District Attorney Chuck Richardson did not know of the connection between the cases until he was informed by a reporter on Friday. He said the cycle of abuse is very apparent in the two cases and others like them. He believes a correlation exists between a person's being abused and ending up being an abuser, he said. While not all abused children become abusers, he said, those who do are more likely to become severely abusive. However, the district attorney said a history of abuse cannot be an excuse for continued violence. "When it comes down to the issue of someone deciding to do something, I think that is a decision. I don't buy it that you snap and regress back to your childhood," Richardson said. The sociological factors of poverty and education can be factors in the cycle of abuse, he said. Karen Ravenscroft, the crisis and respite services coordinator for the Parent Child Center of Tulsa, said she wasn't surprised to hear court testimony describing Shelton Jackson's abusive childhood. "I would have suspected that," she said. "A child being abused has got to be feeling an extreme amount of anger. It's going to come out in one of two ways -- either through aggression or depression." And Ravenscroft agreed that child abuse is a cyclical problem in which abused children very often become abusers themselves. It's very difficult once a child has had years of abuse to turn things around so that they can become a loving parent later on down the road," she said. However, Ravenscroft said, research has shown that not all children in a family with an abusive parent go on to be abusers. In some instances, some of the children have been able to break the abuse cycle by finding a mentor or some other way of dealing with the situation. As with child abuse, teen-age pregnancy also is something that can be continued through generations, as in the case of Otherine Moore and her daughter Kimberly. "It's hard for a child to be raising a child," Ravenscroft said. She said that initially a teen-ager may be overjoyed at the thought of having a baby, because many think having a child will bring them the love and attention they desire. But when reality hits, the young mothers who are the children of young mothers find themselves overwhelmed, she said. "They haven't seen appropriate ways of dealing with child behavior. They don't know much about child development," Ravenscroft said. A lack of resources could lead young mothers to leave their children in the care of boyfriends or others who are not suitable caregivers. "Very often a teen-age mom is rebelling, too, about having to put aside their fun, their wanting to be with friends, but they have to take care of this child," she said. Ravenscroft said the best way to stop cyclical or generational problems is to make the public aware of the importance of prevention. "We'd like to help families before we get to the point" where tragedies occur. "We hope to help parents in the child development stages. We hope to help them develop good parenting skills," she said. She cited several new programs in Tulsa, including Children First and Healthy Start, which provide preventative services. These programs offer education, support and medical services to low-income families and their children in the first years of life.
11/24/98 - Jackson case typical of abuse - Shelton DeWayne Jackson, the man who beat Monica Decator to death and left her son Oz to die, has been sentenced to death. In the view of most, justice was served. Defense attorneys tried to paint Jackson as a man who had little choice but to become a criminal because of his horrendous childhood. His mother was a 14-year-old runaway when she became pregnant with him. An alcoholic, she married a man who disciplined Jackson and his sister severely. She said she sometimes had to make him stop hitting her son. Juries and judges don't cotton much to this so-called abuse excuse. They shouldn't. After all, most citizens who had horrible childhoods don't turn out to be murderers. But there is a lesson in the Shelton Jackson story. A 14-year-old alcoholic runaway who links up with an abuser is a certain recipe for trouble. And it's a recipe we can, in many cases, alter with the addition of a few ingredients. Oddly enough, Shelton Jackson's nephew, Kevin Moore, was killed last year by his mother's boyfriend. In the cases of both Kevin Moore and Oz Decator, the boyfriends said they became irritable with the children because they wouldn't stop crying, and resorted to beating them. Kevin ended up dead and Oz with severe brain damage. The public often surmises that unrelated parties are the biggest culprits in this massive abuse problem. But in fact that is not the case. Most abusers are parents. And is it any wonder that a girl who runs away from home, turns to alcohol and becomes pregnant doesn't make the best mother? Is it at all surprising that people who came from backgrounds of deprivation, abuse and other horrors don't have the slightest idea how to be parents? It is difficult for people with normal backgrounds to understand why someone who was abused becomes an abuser. It makes no sense. But experts say abusers grow up to repeat the behavior because it is what they learned, because it gives them the feeling of power taken away from them when they were small. Without question, the cycle must be broken. That means applying the resources necessary to help at- risk parents before they abuse, to respond quickly at the first signs of abuse, and to have the resources available to take care of abused children when necessary. To do otherwise is to allow this vicious cycle to continue indefinitely.
11/28/98 - Within a week after Shelton DeWayne Jackson received a death sentence for murdering Monica Decator after he severely injured her 2-year-old son, Oz, Tulsa prosecutors declared that they will seek the same punishment for another man who is charged with murdering Jackson's 14-month-old nephew. Assistant District Attorney Steve Sewell filed notice Wednesday that the death penalty will be sought for Carlous Lougene Jackson, 40, if he is convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Kevin Moore. Sewell alleges that there are two "aggravating circumstances," as defined by statute, to justify the ultimate punishment. He contends that the June 5 murder of Kevin was "especially heinous, atrocious and cruel" -- involving "torture" -- and alleges that Carlous Jackson is a continuing threat to society. A jury that finds at least one aggravating circumstance has the authority to sentence a defendant to death. On the other hand, jurors can impose a lesser punishment for first-degree murder -- life with or without parole -- even if they determine that there are multiple aggravating circumstances. Some observers have pointed out parallels in the cases of the Jacksons, who officials do not think are related. Shelton Jackson's sister, Kimberly Moore, was the mother of Kevin Moore. At an Aug. 26 preliminary hearing, a police detective said Carlous Jackson told him that he struck 14-month-old Kevin "with his fists in a hammer-like fashion" after he became frustrated while baby- sitting two young children because Kevin "was crying a lot." When questioned June 6, Carlous Jackson indicated that while the boy's mother was at work, he went to punish Kevin on two separate occasions, Detective Pete Irvine testified previously. At Shelton Jackson's trial, there was evidence that Oz, now 4 and with permanent brain damage, was physically abused in both the morning and afternoon of April 7, 1997, while Oz's mother was at work. Testimony indicated that Shelton Jackson, 25, concealed Oz in the cold beneath a vacant house for many hours until the boy was found, nearly lifeless, and rescued. A police detective testified that after his April 8, 1997, arrest, Shelton Jackson said he "just lost it" because Oz "wouldn't stop crying." There was evidence that he had picked Oz up by his neck two or three times and had thrown the boy on more than one occasion. He received a life term for injuring Oz and the death penalty for the beating-stabbing slaying of Monica Decator, 23. Prosecutors maintained that he murdered the mother in an effort "to save his own skin" because she would have sought medical help for her son and authorities would have learned that Oz had been abused. Both Jacksons are in jail. Formal sentencing is set for Thursday for Shelton Jackson, while no trial date has been set for Carlous Jackson.
12/5/98 - Convicted killer Shelton Jackson says he's sorry for his crimes - Convicted murderer Shelton DeWayne Jackson said he was sorry for his crimes before a Tulsa judge formally sentenced him to death Friday. "I want to apologize for my actions," he mumbled. District Judge Jesse Harris followed the jury's recommendation by sentencing Jackson to death for the murder of Monica Decator, to life in prison for the injury of her child, Oz Decator, and to 35 years for setting fire to their residence. They were the maximum penalties for the three felony counts he was convicted of last month. Jackson, 25, was also fined $30,000. Harris set April 5 as Jackson's execution date, which was automatically stayed for appeal. Before handing down the sentence, Harris denied a new trial. During the trial sentencing phase, jurors notified court officials that photographs not marked or introduced as exhibits had been submitted for their review, along with the exhibits that were properly marked as evidence. Three photos of slain Monica Decator had mistakenly been sent to the jury room, along with other pictures depicting her injuries that were introduced as evidence. Chief Public Defender Pete Silva argued that the photos were "much worse in depicting the injuries" than those in evidence. Silva also implied that District Attorney Chuck Richardson had to know that they were the wrong photos, based on size and shape. But Harris agreed with the prosecution that the injuries depicted in the questionable photos were shown in other photos admitted into evidence and that he did not think they affected the outcome. Decator was killed April 7, 1997. Firefighters found her beaten, stabbed body the next morning at the front of her burning duplex. About 12 hours later, police found 2-year-old Oz wrapped in carpet and left to die in the crawlspace of an abandoned house. Jackson told police that he "lost it" and beat Oz when the boy began to cry. He said killed Decator, 23, because she discovered the boy's abuse.
6/29/01 - Man appeals sentence in
7/28/01 - Appeals court to make
decision on inmate's retrial
12/23/01 - Murder conviction, death
sentence for man overturned
2/23/03 - Slain woman's photo to be
shown at retrial
3/17/03 - Fire is focus early in
9/19/03 - Murder defendant's
relatives on stand
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