They heard all of the facts and once again I got my information from the press.
Jailer cleared of smugglingBy MARY ANN GREIER
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LISBON - With the words "not guilty," Jason Jackson jumped from his seat as emotions erupted in the Columbiana County Common Pleas courtroom where he stood accused of conveying marijuana onto the county jail grounds.
The 30-year-old suspended St. Clair Township police officer and former CiviGenics jail employee sat and cried in the arms of his defense attorney, Dominic Frank, as Judge C. Ashley Pike sought order to excuse the jury Thursday afternoon.
He had the courtroom cleared so he could thank the two women and 10 men in quiet, acknowledging it was a "very emotional case for everyone involved."
"We greatly appreciate the jury taking the time to look at the evidence," Frank said outside the courthouse. "We can't thank them enough."
The jury received the case at about 10:45 a.m. and began deliberations, breaking for lunch at 1 p.m., returning before 2 p.m. and then delivering the verdict just before 3 p.m., which Pike accepted and read aloud.
Jackson was indicted last July for one count of illegal conveyance of a drug of abuse onto the grounds of a detention facility, a third-degree felony. If convicted, he could have faced one to five years in prison and the end of his law enforcement career.
"I just want to thank my attorney and my family and friends for being here and supporting me," Jackson said.
Frank pointed to the overall case when asked what he thought made the difference for the jury.
"The evidence clearly showed that Jason Jackson did nothing wrong," he said.
"Clearly we saw the case differently," county Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Gamble said in reaction to the decision.
He also noted the time the jurors took to deliberate and said he appreciated their efforts, adding "I'm sure it was a difficult case for them to decide."
He praised the efforts of members of the Drug Task Force, Detective Troy Walker, Lt. Brian McLaughlin (the former director) and Detective Dan Downard, the current director, calling them three of the finest police officers in the county and personally offering them his thanks.
"They testified truthfully and honestly," he said, saying their integrity is beyond reproach and they performed admirably and professionally.
Gamble said he talked with one of the jurors and learned the issue the jury struggled over was the fact that Jackson didn't transport the package containing tobacco and marijuana inside the jail complex.
"They thought there was reasonable doubt," he said.
Over the course of the trial which began Tuesday morning, jurors saw a video of Jackson, who resides in East Liverpool, approach his silver pickup parked against a wall of the jail on March 4, 2007, look in the bed behind the driver side, look off to the left of his truck, then walk to the right side of his truck, open his passenger door, and take a package from the passenger side of the truck bed and place it on the seat.
He was standing facing the inside of his truck when members of the county Drug Task Force and Sheriff's Office deputies approached with weapons drawn and took him into custody.
The package had been dropped in the truck by an informant who contacted the DTF on March 2 regarding a call he received from a jail inmate via cell phone asking him to take drugs to a woman who then was going to drop them in the bed of a silver pickup in the jail parking lot. They learned the pickup belonged to Jackson, whose name had been mentioned in January regarding the delivery of contraband to jail inmates through jail guards.
The DTF wouldn't provide him with drugs, so he instead asked for gas money to give to the woman to get to the jail. The package was never delivered March 3, so for more control, the DTF asked the informant to make the delivery of a package he was asked by inmates to retrieve from another woman.
That was the package that ended up in the hands of Jackson, but he told jurors he didn't know the package contained marijuana.
Two other guards have been charged with illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a detention facility, with one guard sentenced to prison in 2007 for 18 months and another set to face sentencing later this month for attempted illegal conveyance.
Gamble said in these type of situations, agents are unable logistically to let the subject get inside the jail with the contraband, since the doors are locked and they have to be let inside by a CiviGenics employee.
"All it takes is a little bit of time to get rid of evidence," he said.
During closing arguments, Gamble and fellow assistant Prosecutor Tammie Riley Jones used Frank's opening argument about what his client knew and when he knew it, pointing to the evidence and how they felt it showed he knew exactly what was in the package when he approached his truck. He was a police officer, he knew the inmates were involved in drugs and he knew contraband was being brought inside the jail. He said they offered him money. He admitted to all that.
He admitted he found tobacco packages in the bed of his truck about a week or so before the March 4 incident. Instead of reporting it, Jones reminded jurors how "he took them into the jail and flushed them down the toilet." She said it didn't make sense.
She and Gamble also reminded jurors how Jackson testified that one of the inmates told him the female who was supposed to deliver the first package on March 3 "smoked their drugs up." He later said he meant tobacco.
Gamble repeated how Jackson said he had no idea there was marijuana in the package. He said they told him it was just tobacco. Just hearing testimony about the inmates and what was happening at the jail, he asked the jurors, "Would any one of you not have the slightest idea?"
Gamble replayed the video of Jackson retrieving the package and asked jurors to note his demeanor, pointing out he didn't appear to be shocked. He was doing exactly what he planned to do.
Frank boiled the case down to one thing: did he knowingly convey or attempt to convey. With some of his actions, he said he may have been a bad employee, but that didn't make him guilty of what he was accused of doing.
He asked the jury to consider whether Jackson conveyed anything onto the grounds and if he did "who did he convey it to?"