Today, Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Ben Brooks accepted a jury’s recommendation of the death penalty in the capital murder case of Jamal Jackson, who was convicted of stabbing and strangling his girlfriend Satori Richardson in 2014 before setting their apartment on fire.
After his conviction in March, the jury recommended the death sentence by a margin of 10-2, accepting prosecutor’s claims the crime rose to the level of capital murder based on Jackson’s previous conviction of robbery using a firearm.Both the jury and Brooks rejected another aggravating factor; prosecutors claimed the murder was especially “cruel and heinous” because it was committed in the presence of Richardson’s 4-year-old daughter, who later testified against Jackson and can be heard on a July 4, 2014 911 recording screaming for her mother’s life as Jackson stabbed Richardson 32 times with a kitchen knife and strangled her with an electrical cord.
Jackson was 24 at the time, Richardson was 26.
Afterward, prosecutors say Jackson lit a fire in their shared apartment on Navco Road before fleeing to the Florida Panhandle, where he was caught hours later after a brief pursuit by police. The child fled unhurt to a relative’s apartment next door.Although he initially pleaded not guilty, defense attorneys Greg Hughes and Robert “Bucky” Thomas did not attempt to prove Jackson’s innocence. Rather, they sought to mitigate the intent of the defendant’s crime, suggesting it was an isolated incident fueled by a day of heavy drinking.
At a sentencing hearing last month, Jackson apologized for the crime, saying he “wakes up every day and deal with the mistake I’ve made, and think of the pain I caused … I wasn’t in my right mind … I pray one day y’all can forgive me.”
But witnesses testified that in the one year they dated, Jackson and Richardson had been in other domestic violence incidents, including one when Jackson drove Richardson to a graveyard and told Richardson that “this is where you’re going to be.”
Brooks cited previous court rulings to indicate he was wary about imposing capital punishment, but ultimately concluded the facts surrounding Jackson’s armed robbery conviction at the age of 17 were enough to meet the state’s standard for aggravating circumstances necessary to pursue the death penalty. As to the violence of the murder, Brooks noted Richardson was “stabbed so forcefully the long-bladed knife was bent into the shape of a U,” and said had he been required to make an independent finding on the definition of heinous and cruel, “a different conclusion may have been reached.”
“The victim was aware her daughter was watching her being killed,” he said.
The prosecution was led by Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood.