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Jackson v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

June 12, 2019

Shawn David Jackson, Appellant,
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Alachua County. James M. Colaw, Judge.

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Justin F. Karpf, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Tabitha Herrera, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.

          WETHERELL, J.

         After a hearing under section 921.1401, Florida Statutes, the appellant, Shawn David Jackson, was resentenced to life in prison for what the trial court described as "an especially heinous, atrocious and cruel murder." On appeal, Jackson argues that (1) the trial court erred by not imposing the burden of proof on the State at the resentencing hearing and (2) a life sentence was not appropriate in this case. We summarily reject the first argument because it is clear from the trial court's sentencing order that the sentence in this case would have been the same irrespective of which (if either[1]) party had the burden of proof, and we reject the second argument for the reasons that follow.


         In 1989, Jackson brutally raped and murdered a young woman in her home. He was 17 years and two months old at the time. The trial court summarized the crime as follows:

[Jackson] was living in the same neighborhood as the [victim's] family in High Springs . . . . While it is possible that the victim and [Jackson] may have seen each other before, [Jackson] and others reported that they had had no personal contact until [Jackson] came to the [victim's] residence on [the day before the murder]. On that day, [Jackson] went to the [victim's] residence asking to use the telephone. [Jackson] claimed the phone in his residence was not working. Later investigation revealed that to be untrue. . . . .
[The following day], [Jackson] returned to the [victim's] residence where [she] was home alone caring for [a] 15 month old [child]. [Jackson] once again asked to use the telephone claiming again that the phone at his residence was not working. According to [Jackson], [the victim] allowed him into her home to use the telephone. [Jackson] stated he was nervous and upset when he was unable to reach his friend on the phone. He then stated that [the victim] "flashed" him a smile that he interpreted as mocking him. He described himself as losing all conscious control, entering a psychotic rage, and raping and murdering [the victim] by strangling her to death. [Jackson] stated the victim did not entice him in any way. He reported that he took her smile "really badly" and lunged at her as a result.
[Jackson] stated that he grabbed the victim by the throat and she began to struggle. He described the victim coming up off the couch in the living room where she was seated, struggling to get free. [Jackson] was eventually able to subdue her in the hallway of the home where she went down on her back. [Jackson] indicated that the strangulation seemed very long, stating to law enforcement that the "choking part seemed like it took hours." After she went limp, he removed her shorts and underwear, dropped his pants to his knees and began having vaginal sex with her while still possibly choking her. [Jackson] believed he ejaculated and described the sex as brief. After the rape, [Jackson] described the victim as limp and unresponsive with blood coming from her mouth and nose. Some of that blood got on [Jackson]'s hands so after placing the victim's shorts over her to cover part of her body, he went to the kitchen to wash his hands. He then went through the victim's purse which was in the laundry room. He removed cash and car keys. [Jackson] then locked both doors to the [victim's] residence to give him more time to get away and left the victim's body and the 15 month old child inside. He took the victim's [car] and traveled south . . . towards Newberry to obtain gas. Before getting to Newberry, he picked up a friend . . . and told him he had just killed a woman and stolen her car. [The friend] agreed to leave the area and assist [Jackson] in avoiding apprehension.

         Jackson was arrested the next day in Virginia driving the victim's stolen car. He told law enforcement that he was planning to go to Maine and that "he couldn't think of any reason why he raped and killed [the victim]."

         Jackson was charged with first-degree murder, sexual battery with great force, and several other offenses. He pled guilty to the murder and the sexual battery charges, and in exchange, the State agreed not to seek the death penalty[2] for the murder and nol prossed the other charges. The trial court adjudicated Jackson guilty and sentenced him to life in prison for the murder followed by 15 years in prison for the sexual battery.

         In 2016, Jackson filed a rule 3.800(a) motion in which he argued that his life sentence was illegal under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). The trial court granted the motion and held a resentencing hearing pursuant to section 921.1401. After the hearing, the court entered a detailed sentencing order re-imposing the life sentence for the ...

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