116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / News / Crime and Courts
Defense expert says Alexander Jackson’s phone didn’t have doorbell camera app
Police suspected Jackson, who’s accused of killing his parents and sister, deleted the app
CEDAR RAPIDS — A defense expert testified Monday that a data review of Alexander Jackson’s cellphone didn’t show any evidence a surveillance camera app had been installed. Such an app could have seen activity in his family’s backyard on June 15, 2021, the day his parents and sister were murdered.
A prosecution witness testified last week that in attempting to verify Jackson’s claim that an intruder came into his family’s home and killed his father Jan, 61, mother Melissa, 68, and his sister Sabrina, 19, and then fled out the back door, police found the Ring doorbell camera at the backdoor may not have been working.
If Jackson had recently deleted the Ring app and any videos from it — which police suspected — before or on June 15, the data would have shown it, Kris Lyon, who works an investigator for the Iowa City Public Defender’s Office, said.
⧉ Related article: Live Coverage of Jackson murder trial, Day 6
The defense rested its case Monday and the prosecution had one rebuttal witness regarding the extraction of cell data.
Jackson, 22, confirmed to the judge Monday that he would not testify.
Closing arguments will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, following six days of testimony.
Jackson is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lyon said he found Jan and Melissa Jackson had the Ring app on each of their phones. Melissa last accessed it on June 12 and Jan on June 13, after they received notifications. He didn’t find the app on Sabrina’s phone.
Lyon, on cross exam, admitted that he can’t say the Ring app has never been on Jackson’s phone. He looked for commonly related files but none were found.
First Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter asked Lyon, who is a former West Liberty Police officer and University Heights Police chief, if he was fired from University Heights in 2018 after receiving a no-confidence vote.
Lyon said yes.
The defense rested after Lyon testified.
The prosecution then called Cedar Rapids Police Investigator Jeff Holst as a rebuttal witness.
Holst, who is a certified forensic computer examiner and has been trained to look for digital evidence, said there was no evidence to show whether the Ring app was downloaded on Jackson’s phone. But since no evidence was located, he couldn’t say it was or wasn’t.
He agreed with Lyon that it was on the phones belonging to Jan and Melissa.
Holst also found a laptop in the home that appeared to belong to Alexander Jackson, but he couldn’t get into it. It was encrypted, which would required a decryption key or password.
Police obtained two separate warrants for the Ring app, Holst said. The first one showed the front door and garage cameras were online June 15, 2021.
No information or a video was received from the company for the backyard camera, Holst said. Police should have been seen in the backyard area June 15, when they responded to the incident.
Police obtained a second warrant after they went into the backyard on June 17 as a test, but all cameras — including the backyard one — were offline June 17, according to information from the company.
In other testimony, Jared Wacker, Washington High School band director, testified that he had Jackson as a band student when was the band director at Kennedy High School.
Wacker said he met Jackson in 2015. Jackson played the flute and was in the marching band for three years and also was in the wind symphony — for advanced band members.
He said Jackson always had “good attendance, was hard working, very polite and took suggestions.”
Jackson took private flute lessons and was featured as a soloist during his senior year. He also went on honor band trips and lettered in band.
Tyler Johnston, Jackson’s lawyer, asked if Jackson’s parents were supportive of him.
Wacker said they were. He recalled his mother was usually at band events.
Wacker said the last time he talked to Jackson was in 2018.
Slaughter asked what kind of grades Jackson received and Wacker said A and A+ in band classes.
Slaughter then asked if Wacker would be surprised to know Jackson’s GPA in college at the University of Iowa was 1.9 and that he was failing most of his classes.
Wacker said he would be surprised.
Garrett Barton, 19, who was in Boy Scouts with Jackson, testified he had known him since 2015 but they didn’t have much contact outside of scouts.
He met Jackson’s mother a few times and his father once, Barton said. Jackson was always respectful to his mother. He never saw Jackson being violent or getting angry at anyone.
Barton, on cross, said he hadn’t talked to Jackson since 2018.
Comments: (319) 398-8318; email@example.com