Man Given Life For Assault On Ex-sister-in-law

April 11, 1991|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

A Shady Side man convicted in January of beating and trying to rape his former sister-in-law was sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison yesterday.

Circuit Court Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr. also found Michael James Jackson, 30, guilty of breaking into the home of anotherShady Side woman in May 1990 and beating her in front of a 3-year-old child.

Before sentencing, Assistant State's Attorney Ronald M. Naditch told the judge that he should show no mercy for Jackson, who "refuses to admit he has done something wrong.

"I don't know whether a goodhuman being rests in the body of Mr. Jackson," Naditch said. "Ordinarily, I would say sentencing guidelines are enough. But for this man to do what he did and still maintain he has done nothing, the only suitable, the only proper, the only fair and just result has to be to put him in jail for as long as the law allows -- the rest of his natural life."

One of Jackson's attorneys, Charles M. Carlson, took exception to Naditch's comments. "The fact that Mr. Jackson says he did not do it is beyond question," he said. "He's been found guilty. Admission may be good for the soul. It may be a step toward rehabilitation in God's eyes, but it is not required."

Jackson's other attorney, David Ellerton, told the judge that his client is well-respected byfriends and family members, but on the night of the attack, "something happened. It is a short period when you look at the span of his lifetime."

Ellerton said Jackson should be given a chance at rehabilitation. "How can we save what otherwise is a good human being?" he asked. "This screams for help, not 'let's discard him as a human being.' "

Jackson, in a short statement to the judge, said it was impossible for Naditch to "know what is in my heart. It is an unfair accusation."

Jackson was found guilty of assault with intent to rape and a first-degree sexual offense for the February 1988 attack on his former sister-in-law.

The 27-year-old victim, who now lives in Florida, testified that she woke up one night to the sound of someone breaking into her home.

She said Jackson ran upstairs and told her hewas going to rape her. "He grabbed me by my throat and he slammed meup against the wall," the woman said. "He kept hitting me and bashing me in my face and my children were screaming. He threw me on the ground and said if I didn't do what he said he was going to kill my children."

The woman said she told Jackson she had AIDS, but he then demanded that she perform oral sex on him. She said he threatened to rape her 4-year-old daughter if she did not comply. She also testified that the attack left her bleeding from the ears and she required stitches for cuts on her lip.

Jackson was one of two defendants who last year unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of Maryland's law allowing so-called "genetic fingerprints" into evidence.

A suspect can be linked to a crime by comparing the DNA in bodily fluids found at the scene to DNA from the suspect, scientists say. DNA, ordeoxyribonucleic acid, is the blueprint of all life, and every person's DNA is believed unique.

But the infallibility of the technology has been questioned by defense attorneys across the country. In this case, Jackson's lawyers challenged the Maryland law that says people do not have to be called to testify as to the reliability of DNA testing.

Ellerton could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Naditch said he was sure an appeal would be filed. "It's not a questionof if, it's when," he said.

In the second case, the judge found Jackson guilty of breaking and entering and assaulting a woman in May 1990. Jackson waived his right to a jury trial and did not offer a defense in the case. Charges, including assault with intent to rape, were dropped because prosecutors said they could not prove them.

Jackson was charged with breaking into a Shady Side home, punching a woman in her face and grabbing her around the neck. When the woman grabbed a pair of scissors and began stabbing him in the face, he forced her to the ground and threw a bicycle on her before running away.

Jackson was sentenced to 6 1/2 years on those charges.

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