Jackson v. State, No. 24S00-8811-CR-906

Docket NºNo. 24S00-8811-CR-906
Citation597 N.E.2d 950
Case DateAugust 19, 1992
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 950

597 N.E.2d 950
Donald Lee JACKSON, Jr., Appellant (Defendant Below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
No. 24S00-8811-CR-906.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Aug. 19, 1992.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 23, 1992.

Page 953

Terrance W. Richmond, Milan, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Arthur Thaddeus Perry, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

SHEPARD, Chief Justice.

A jury found Donald Lee Jackson guilty of robbery, a class A felony, Ind.Code Sec. 35-42-5-1 (West 1986); kidnapping, a class A felony, Ind.Code Sec. 35-42-3-2 (West 1986); murder, a felony, Ind.Code Sec. 35-42-1-1(1) (West 1986); and two counts of felony murder, a felony, Ind.Code Sec. 35-42-1-1(2) (West 1986). The jury recommended against the death penalty. The Court noted the jury's recommendation but sentenced Jackson to death. It also imposed sentences totaling 100 years in prison.

The evidence presented at trial showed that on the morning of October 9, 1986, Michelle Seagraves was kidnapped from the parking lot of her Columbus, Ohio, apartment complex, driven to Indiana in her own car, and killed. It further showed that Seagraves' car was used as the getaway

Page 954

vehicle for a robbery committed later that day.

At about 8:30 on the morning of October 9, 1986, Dona Lykins was standing on his back porch in Columbus. He saw Seagraves get into her dark blue Ford Granada and start the engine. Almost immediately, he saw a man open the driver's side door, push her into the passenger seat, close the door, and drive away on Ray Avenue.

Kelly Barnett and her cousin Amber Rose were waiting for the school bus on Ray Avenue that morning. The girls saw a dark car go down the street followed by a white Corvette. The man driving the dark car was holding a woman's head under his leg as he drove. Both cars stopped near the girls and the driver of the dark car beckoned to them. The girls ran away. When the police presented Kelly with a group of photographs, she identified Stuart Kennedy as the driver of the dark car.

George Cottingham of Moores Hill, Indiana, saw a dark car pass by three or four different times between 9:30 and 11:30 on the morning of October 9. He noted that the driver of the car was a man and that the passenger was either a small woman or a child. That evening police asked him to attempt to identify a car found parked by the railroad crossing on County Line Road in Dearborn County. He identified the dark blue Granada, Ohio license plate 722 FQG, as the same car he had seen earlier in the day.

Judith Volz was at home on County Line Road near Moores Hill on the morning of October 9. Around 10:30 or 11:00 she saw an unfamiliar dark blue car pass her house at a high rate of speed. A white Corvette followed immediately behind it. Around 12:45, she saw the white Corvette parked by the railroad tracks near her home and wrote down the license plate number. Later that afternoon, she heard there had been a bank robbery in Moores Hill. She remembered the Corvette and called the state police to report its license plate number, Ohio 465 FQU.

Between 1:45 and 1:50 p.m. on October 9, two masked men robbed the Peoples National Bank in Moores Hill. The shorter of the two jumped over the counter and began taking money from the tellers' drawers. The taller man held the bank manager at gun point and forced him to remove money from the vault. Once the money was collected, the bank manager heard the taller one tell the shorter one, "hurry up Jack" or "come on Jack." Record at 4570. The manager saw the two men leave in a dark blue Ford Granada. One of the other bank employees got a partial license plate number from the Granada, Ohio 722 ___. The manager described the shorter robber as wearing a tan or gray-greenish tee shirt and green army pants. He said the shorter robber was about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighed around one hundred forty-five pounds, and had curly light brown hair.

Eric Ester was also in the Moores Hill area in the late morning and early afternoon of October 9. He pulled his truck over to the side of County Line Road to adjust a ladder he was transporting. Just as he got back into his vehicle, a blue Granada with Ohio plates passed him. The car went over the hill toward the railroad tracks. As Ester drove toward the tracks, a white Corvette took off and started up the other side of the hill. When he reached the tracks the blue Granada was parked there. He was unsure of the exact time he saw this apparent exchange of cars.

After talking with the bank manager, Columbus police officers, Eric Ester, Judith Volz, and George Cottingham, the Indiana State Police ran a check on the Corvette's license plate number and determined that the car was registered to Donald Lee Jackson of Columbus, Ohio. A background check on Jackson revealed that he fit the general description of the shorter bank robber and that he had a prior conviction for armed bank robbery. Because the Corvette had Ohio plates, the Indiana police reported the information about Jackson along with the license plate number of the blue Granada to the police in Columbus, Ohio. A check by Columbus police determined that the blue Granada was registered to Michelle Seagraves.

Page 955

Early on the morning of October 10, officers Whalen and VanGundy of the Columbus Police Department went to 2101 West Mound Street in Columbus, where Jackson was living, to stake out his Corvette. Jackson came out of the house at 7 a.m. carrying a bundle. The officers watched him go to the car and put his hand on the door handle. They then drove around to block his exit. When they pulled in behind him, he was just getting out of the car. They identified themselves as police officers and placed Jackson under arrest. Jackson did not resist. Officer Whalen reached into the open driver's side door and moved newspapers on the passenger seat. Under the newspapers he found a brown paper sack with about $5000 in currency and a Styrofoam box with a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, a submachine gun, and two magazines for those weapons. He did not remove those items from the car. Very shortly after Jackson's arrest, Officer Arbie Skaggs from the crime scene search unit of the Columbus Police Department arrived. Officer Skaggs removed the guns and money, some papers, a flat black strap, and several other items from the Corvette.

An officer transported Jackson to the Columbus Police Department where Jackson talked with homicide detective Clarence Sorrell. Jackson told Sorrell that Stuart Kennedy kidnapped Seagraves by forcing her into the passenger seat of her own car, that he followed Kennedy and Seagraves to Indiana, that he and Kennedy robbed the bank a few minutes after Kennedy killed Seagraves, and that he tried to stop Kennedy from killing her. He also told Sorrell that Seagraves had not been shot in the face. Following the conversation at the station, Jackson led Sorrell, other police officers, and two FBI agents to an area near West Chester, Ohio, where they located some of the stolen money, and to Moores Hill, Indiana, where they recovered the body of Michelle Seagraves. On the way back to Columbus, Jackson told Sorrell that the clothes he and Kennedy wore during the bank robbery were in a dumpster behind a particular T.J. Maxx store in Columbus. An FBI agent later recovered the clothes from the dumpster.

A pathologist conducted an autopsy on Michelle Seagraves on October 10. He determined that she had been hit in the head with a blunt instrument, strangled with a flat black strap which was still around her neck, and shot in the back of the neck with the bullet exiting just above her left eye. Death was caused by a combination of the strangulation and the gunshot wound. Either by itself could have caused death.

I. Jury Override

We turn first to the issue of whether the trial court properly sentenced Jackson to death after the jury recommended against death. This Court has held that in order to sentence a defendant to death after a jury has recommended against death, the facts so clearly justify the death penalty that the jury's recommendation is unreasonable. Martinez Chavez v. State (1989), Ind., 539 N.E.2d 4, 5.

The evidence in this case clearly indicates that Stuart Kennedy was the one who forced his way into Michelle Seagraves car and drove her to Indiana. A ballistics expert testified that the bullet that killed Michelle Seagraves could have come from a .41 caliber magnum revolver which he tested. Police found that revolver among Stuart Kennedy's possessions. The expert was not asked to test either of the guns recovered from Jackson's Corvette.

On the other hand, Jackson's statement revealed that he was at best a few yards away when Seagraves was killed and that he joined Kennedy in the bank robbery minutes after her death. The State also introduced a number of items recovered from the dumpster behind the T.J. Maxx, including three bloody gloves and the army pants Jackson was wearing during the bank robbery. Examination revealed human blood on the pants; however, the blood was on the back of the right leg and could have splattered from around ten feet away.

The prosecution's posture during the trial of Stuart Kennedy seemed to be that Kennedy was the principal perpetrator. In

Page 956

that trial, the prosecution argued to the jury:

Let me also take just a moment to assure you that come the next trial of Donald Jackson in April of this year in another county in Indiana, Franklin County, I believe it is, the prosecutors are not going to argue that Donald Jackson beat her in the head with a rock and shot her and strangled her. Let me tell you why. She was strangled with this, this was on her early on in the car for control. He put it on her. He was the one in the car with her.... Another reason why we're not going to be saying Donald Jackson bashed her in the head, strangled her and shot her is because of eleven and a half Turn Tek shoes, found in the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
49 practice notes
  • Lowery v. Anderson, No. IP 96-71-C-H/G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • July 6, 1999
    ...sentences that had been imposed contrary to jury recommendations. Kennedy v. State, 620 N.E.2d 17, 19-20 (Ind.1993); Jackson v. State, 597 N.E.2d 950, 955-56 In Roark v. State, the court revisited the issue and concluded that the Martinez Chavez standard needed modification because it inter......
  • Com. v. White
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • December 29, 1995
    ...Ill.2d 209, 78 Ill.Dec. 107, 111, 461 N.E.2d 941, 945, cert. denied, 469 U.S. 840, 105 S.Ct. 142, 83 L.Ed.2d 81 (1984); Jackson v. State, 597 N.E.2d 950, 957 (Ind.1992); cert. denied, 507 U.S. 976, 113 S.Ct. 1424, 122 L.Ed.2d 793 (1993); State v. Sanders, 312 N.W.2d 534, 539 (Iowa 1981); St......
  • Wisehart v. State, No. 48S00-9005-PD-378
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • March 19, 1998
    ...unless "illogical or arbitrary." Shane v. State, 615 N.E.2d 425, 426 (Ind.1993); Baird, 604 N.E.2d at 1186; Jackson v. State, 597 N.E.2d 950, 960 (Ind.1992). We do not find the trial court's denial of the challenge for cause to be illogical or During voir dire, prospective juror W......
  • Harrison v. State, No. 65S00-9105-DP-380
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • January 4, 1995
    ...We have regularly held that such evidence is not unduly prejudicial, e.g., Baird, 604 N.E.2d at 1189, Jackson v. State (1992), Ind., 597 N.E.2d 950, 963, reh'g denied, cert. denied, 507 U.S. 976, 113 S.Ct. 1424, 122 L.Ed.2d 793 (1993), Kennedy v. State (1991), Ind., 578 N.E.2d 633, 640, reh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
49 cases
  • Lowery v. Anderson, No. IP 96-71-C-H/G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • July 6, 1999
    ...sentences that had been imposed contrary to jury recommendations. Kennedy v. State, 620 N.E.2d 17, 19-20 (Ind.1993); Jackson v. State, 597 N.E.2d 950, 955-56 In Roark v. State, the court revisited the issue and concluded that the Martinez Chavez standard needed modification because it inter......
  • Com. v. White
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • December 29, 1995
    ...Ill.2d 209, 78 Ill.Dec. 107, 111, 461 N.E.2d 941, 945, cert. denied, 469 U.S. 840, 105 S.Ct. 142, 83 L.Ed.2d 81 (1984); Jackson v. State, 597 N.E.2d 950, 957 (Ind.1992); cert. denied, 507 U.S. 976, 113 S.Ct. 1424, 122 L.Ed.2d 793 (1993); State v. Sanders, 312 N.W.2d 534, 539 (Iowa 1981); St......
  • Wisehart v. State, No. 48S00-9005-PD-378
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • March 19, 1998
    ...sustained unless "illogical or arbitrary." Shane v. State, 615 N.E.2d 425, 426 (Ind.1993); Baird, 604 N.E.2d at 1186; Jackson v. State, 597 N.E.2d 950, 960 (Ind.1992). We do not find the trial court's denial of the challenge for cause to be illogical or During voir dire, prospective juror W......
  • Harrison v. State, No. 65S00-9105-DP-380
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • January 4, 1995
    ...We have regularly held that such evidence is not unduly prejudicial, e.g., Baird, 604 N.E.2d at 1189, Jackson v. State (1992), Ind., 597 N.E.2d 950, 963, reh'g denied, cert. denied, 507 U.S. 976, 113 S.Ct. 1424, 122 L.Ed.2d 793 (1993), Kennedy v. State (1991), Ind., 578 N.E.2d 633, 640, reh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT