Testimony begins in triple slaying

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A man accused of a shooting spree that resulted in three deaths was in Warren County Circuit Court this morning for the first day of testimony in a trial that could send him to prison for life without parole.

Eric DeShawn Jackson, 26, 2609 Grant St., faces three counts of murder by depraved heart, said District Attorney Ricky Smith. Jackson was charged with the June 26 shooting deaths of Denise Jackson, 25, her unborn child and Preston L. Qualls, 25.

Denise Jackson, who was not related to the defendant, was killed in her home at 2634 Ken Karyl Ave., and authorities said evidence showed she was trying to hide from a barrage of bullets. She was the mother of three other children and was 4 and 1/2 months pregnant, police said.

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Warren County Deputy Coroner Kelda Bailess pronounced Denise Jackson dead at the scene at 6:02 p.m. from a gunshot wound to the neck. The fatal bullet was one of four fired into her home, police said.

The next day around 1:30 p.m. construction workers discovered Qualls’ body in a yard two houses down from Denise Jackson’s home. At the time it was not disclosed why Qualls, who lived about half a mile away at 1523 Ethel St., had been in the area. The father of three had not been reported missing.

Police Lt. Bobby Stewart speculated that Qualls was probably an innocent bystander whose body had gone undiscovered because of construction debris as well as police efforts to control a crowd of about 200 people who gathered on Ken Karyl after the shooting.

Bailess said Qualls was killed by a single shot, and an autopsy confirmed that the same weapon had killed both Qualls and Denise Jackson.

In court Monday, a jury of 10 women and two men along with two women alternates was empaneled by presiding Judge Isadore Patrick. Opening arguments were to be this morning.

Smith, assistant district attorney Dewey K. Arthur and defense attorneys Branan Southerland and Jerry Campbell questioned about 125 prospective jurors before Patrick seated the jury at 3:45 p.m.

Jurors have been sequestered for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last into Wednesday, Patrick told the panel.

Police said in June that the gunfire was the result of a feud between the two Jackson families over a video game. Denise Jackson’s grandfather and her three children, then ages 7, 5 and 1 1/2, were also in the home at the time of the shooting.

Denise Jackson’s stepfather, Michael Jackson, denied that she or her family was involved in an argument with Eric Jackson. He said Eric Jackson was pusuring a man who had fled from the home.

A second man, Curtis Anderson, 28, 210 Kendra Drive, was arrested July 2 and charged with being an accessory after the fact in the slayings, but the October Grand Jury returned a bill of no indictment against him.

Eric Jackson has been in the Warren County Jail since surrendering to police June 27.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at phitchins@vicksburgpost.com.