Jackson takes stand, denies role in slaying
Jackson takes stand, denies role in slaying
By Chanel Davis
Keith Lauchon Jackson Jr. took the stand Thursday, dressed in a white collared shirt, a striped tie and slacks, accompanied with shackles and chains, to defend himself in the murder of Joshua Sweitzer, a Thomasville-native working at the Lucky Mart convenience store on East Fairfield Drive, who was shot in the head on Oct. 31, 2007.
Jackson waived his right to remain silent on the fourth day of the Lucky Mart shooting trial and testified that he had nothing to do with Sweitzer’s murder.
“I believe the person who shot Sweitzer should admit to what they did and should go ahead and take their time,” Jackson said. “I told the detectives in the case that they might want to ask DeMarcus Crump about the handgun.”
According to Jackson, on the day in question he was with a friend, Brandon Bailey, and that they at some point met up with Ronnie Covington in Lawndale Apartments on Kivett Drive. Covington was allegedly waiting for DeAndre Moore.
Jackson went on to testify that Covington took him and Bailey to Franklin Street to visit another friend named Allison Rivers.
At some point during the night of Oct. 31, 2007, Jackson said that Covington, Moore, Bailey, Crump and himself were all in the same vehicle, but he went back to Rivers’ house and stayed there the entire night.
“I asked Ronnie if he didn’t mind dropping me off at Allison’s house,” Jackson said. “We went in the house and watched a movie until her little sister went to sleep, had sex, and then we went to sleep.”
When asked about state’s evidence, including a blue hat, a .38 revolver and a letter written in a gang-related code, Jackson said that he did not recognize the gun and could not read the letter.
He did acknowledge that the hat presented was his, but said that he was not near the Lucky Mart the night of the shooting.
“I do recognize the blue hat,” Jackson said “I was walking around with the hat in my hand because it was too hot to have it on. This is not my letter. It is not even my handwriting. I have never been inside the Lucky Mart store.”
State witness Matthew Savoy, 24, testified Wednesday that Jackson slipped him the letter at the Davidson County Jail directing him to kill accomplice Ronnie Covington.
The letter alleges that Jackson’s house was searched by police due to a statement that was made and that Covington and his cousin, Neco Mason, were “snitching.” It went on to say that Savoy should “crip the fool, straight 187,” and asked Savoy where his loyalty lay.
In his testimony, Jackson admitted to lying to detectives Kevin Ray and Tony English about implicating Quaki Emil Hairston and Christopher Pyles in the murder at the convenience store. Both Hairston and Pyles were cleared later on in the investigation.
“It was a made-up story. When we got caught, I figured that Emil had told them my real name, so I said his name,” Jackson said. “I saw Chris on the news so I said his name. I didn’t even get it right, according to the detectives.”
The jury will hear closing arguments on Monday and is expected to go into deliberations after that. The judge will sentence Jackson after the jury comes to a decision.
He is charged with first-degree murder and is facing life with parole in the death of Sweitzer. He currently is serving a 54-year federal prison sentence for his role in a string of what prosecutors termed gang-related armed robberies of stores in High Point and Davidson County in 2007 and 2008.
Savoy and Marcel Orlando West, two men also involved in the string of armed robberies, pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, and carrying and using, by discharging, a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Thomasville Police Department joined the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, High Point Police Department, Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and Lexington Police Department in the investigation of the 10-robbery crime spree along the Business 85/Highway 29/70 corridor. The robberies occurred between Dec. 12, 2007, and Jan. 3, 2008.
Following their arrest, all four men admitted to being members of the CRIPS street gang. Jackson told authorities he was the leader and the other three men committed the crimes to gain his favor and earn status in the gang.
Sweitzer, whose uncle owned the Lucky Mart, wanted to be a High Point police officer and had applied to the force before he was murdered.
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