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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge will not move the trial for a former University of Iowa student charged with killing his parents and sister last year to another county because he says the media coverage hasn’t been “pervasive and inflammatory” as the defense argued.
Alexander Ken Jackson, 21, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He is accused of killing his father, Jan Jackson, 61; mother, Melissa Jackson, 68; and sister, Sabrina Jackson, 19, in June of last year.
Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Lars Anderson, in his ruling filed late Thursday, said after reviewing 152 exhibits of media coverage provided by Jackson’s lawyers, he found the coverage to be “uniformly factual and largely devoid of inaccuracies, denunciations of Jackson or overly emotional coverage.”
Jackson didn’t “seriously” argue the pre-trial coverage itself has been inflammatory. Instead, he pointed to comments left by others on media posts made on social media.
Anderson pointed out that neither the prosecution or the defense cited any appellate case that have addressed social media comments for the change of venue motion. However, the prosecution did argue that there is no way to determine whether those social media comments were made by people in Linn County.
Jackson’s lawyers haven’t established the necessary requirements for a change of venue, “in particular that the publicity in this case has been so inflammatory that prejudice must now be presumed,” according to the ruling.
During jury selection, if it appears a fair and impartial jury can’t be selected, the defense will be free to renew its motion, Anderson added.
Police were called about 8:30 a.m. June 15, 2021, to the Jackson home at 4414 Oak Leaf Ct. NE and found the three family members had been fatally shot, a criminal complaint said.
Alexander Jackson, then 20, told police he had been awakened by gunfire and was shot in the foot as he struggled over a rifle with a masked intruder.
Investigators found no evidence of forced entry or burglary at the home, the complaint stated. They discovered a .22-caliber Browning semi-automatic rifle in the home that police think is the murder weapon.
Jackson said he and his father had left it on the fireplace after cleaning it the night before, according to the complaint.
His trial is set for Sept. 20.
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