|Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - Thursday, April 3, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Jury Gives Pennington Watermelon Stand Aggravated Robber Six Years
Houston County Courier - April 2008
A Houston County district court jury after two and one-half hours of deliberation on defendant Rafael Jackson’s punishment sentenced him to
six years in Texas Department of Corrections.
The jury deliberated 2.5 hours on what punishment to give the 18-year-old after hearing evidence from the state’s witnesses that the defendant was a gang member and had a bad reputation for being law-abiding.
Jackson presented evidence showing that he had never been convicted of a felony and had an uncle in Houston he could live with if granted probation.
Jackson’s attorney, Jeff Herrington, requested probation from the jury citing Jackson’s current age, and his age when the robbery occurred, as well as citing that Jackson had a new-born premature son along with other facts.
On July 27, 2007 Jackson robbed the Pennington watermelon stand in front of KB Express on the bypass in Grapeland.
Ashley Brown was working there alone when he asked for change for $20.
Jackson then pulled a gun out from under a towel, pulled the slide back on the weapon, and pointed the gun at Ms. Brown’s face.
Jackson demanded the money in the wallet, cell phone and then ran to a waiting car allegedly driven by Amber Kitchen and drove away.
On Aug. 1, 2007, Miss Brown provided a detailed description to DPS forensic artist Susan Birdwell, which resulted in a sketch of the defendant.
Crockett Police Department Officer Clayton Smith saw the sketch and realized it was Jackson. On Aug. 3, 2007 Miss
Brown then identified Jackson from a photo spread.
Later that day, Jackson was questioned and confessed to the robbery but said he used a plastic airsoft gun during the robbery and not a real gun.
“Ashley was sure she had been robbed at gunpoint with a real gun,” Houston County District Attorney David Cervantes said.
Cervantes, prosecuted the case with the assistance of James Ashworth, special prosecutor for the Houston County District Attorney’s office.
“Ashley described the gun as black, with a heavy metal sounding slide when the slide was racked,” Cervantes said.
At trial Jackson tried to say the weapon was a plastic airsoft gun that was painted black with an orange tip and was originally clear.
“This was the big issue in the guilt-innocence phase of trial. Was it a real gun that Jackson robbed Ashley with, which is what Ashley saw, or was it a plastic gun. I argued either way, Jackson should be found guilty of aggravated robbery because an airsoft gun is capable of causing serious bodily injury, the way Jackson used it when he pointed it at Ashley’s face. The aggravated robbery conviction means he’ll have to do one-half the time instead of one-quarter before he’s eligible for parole,” Cervantes said.
Cervantes said, “The aggravated robbery conviction also meant Jackson was looking at up to life in prison instead of up to 20 years for a robbery conviction.
“Jackson had been present at two other robbery incidents in Crockett. The way the cases were written up by law enforcement put Jackson at the scene but not doing anything. The cases didn’t show he was even a look out for the robbers in those cases,” Cervantes said.
“I was pleased with the jury verdict. I was glad the jury didn’t put an aggravated robber on probation even though he was young when he committed the crime. I think the jury may have considered him rehabitable. The jurors didn’t want to send the wrong message by putting an armed robber on probation and didn’t,” Cervantes said.