By Peter H. Milliken
The mother of the Youngstown State University student who was killed in a barrage of bullets fired at a house party near the campus wants to see maximum, consecutive sentences imposed on the defendant most recently convicted in the case.
Shirlene Hill of Liberty made the comment after Jamelle Jackson was convicted Thursday in the murder of 25-year-old Jamail Johnson and the wounding of 10 others by gunfire at the Feb. 6, 2011, Indiana Avenue house party.
“I want him to get the maximum sentence that the law allows,” Hill said, adding that the prison terms for each offense should be stacked one after another. “He had a chance to say no — to not shoot. He was a part of killing my son,” she said of Jackson.
If Jackson, 20, of West Boston Avenue, were to receive maximum, consecutive sentences from Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, the total would be 1071/2 years.
“He was smiling going out of the courtroom. It’s almost like he felt like he did something so great. He did nothing but hurt the lives of so many innocent people,” Hill added. “He’s going to have to answer to God for what he’s done.”
Hill was referring to Jackson’s demeanor as he was escorted out of the courtroom by Mahoning and Summit County deputy sheriffs after the verdict.
“My family, his family, none of us are winners, but justice was served today, and I thank God almighty for it,” Hill said.
“It’s the hardest thing that I’ve ever been through in all 51 of my years. There’s not a day that I don’t think about my son,” Hill said. “My son was a good young man, and justice has prevailed.
“He gave his life for others,” she said of her son, who the prosecution said died while trying to usher others to safety inside the house.
“He probably saved numerous lives by giving his own,” agreed Rebecca Doherty, chief of the criminal division of the Mahoning County prosecutor’s office.
“We must stop the violence. It’s unnecessary. No one wins. It’s heart-wrenching for me. It’s heart-wrenching for his family, too,” Hill said of Jackson.
At the maximum, Jackson’s sentence would include 15 years to life for the murder, three years for the gun specification, eight years on each felonious- assault count, eight years for firing into a house and 18 months for carrying a concealed weapon.
A nine-woman, three-man jury of Summit County residents convicted Jackson of all counts after nearly four hours of deliberations at the end of a trial that lasted almost two weeks.
There are 11 surviving victims of the shooting, but the prosecution dropped one count of felonious assault because one victim did not cooperate with the prosecution, Doherty said.
Judge Durkin moved Jackson’s trial to Summit County Common Pleas Court in Akron due to extensive pretrial publicity concerning the case in Youngstown.
Judge Durkin will sentence Jackson in Youngstown at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Douglas Taylor, a defense lawyer, said that Jackson’s conviction will be appealed. “There’s no question about that,” he added.
Jackson’s co-defendant Columbus Jones Jr., 24, of Cambridge Avenue, was convicted by a jury in Youngstown of the murder and felonious assaults and shooting into a house and sentenced in August to 92 years in prison.
Doherty said she’ll ask Judge Durkin to impose on Jackson the same sentence he gave Columbus Jones. “I think it’s certainly fair that they be treated equally,” Doherty added.
Wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt and blue tie, Jackson sat at the defense table between Taylor and his other defense lawyer, John Ams, as the verdict was read.
In Jackson’s Akron trial, 166 exhibits were admitted into evidence after more than 30 witnesses testified.