116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Two palm prints matching Alexander Jackson, who is accused of fatally shooting his parents and sister in 2021 in northeast Cedar Rapids, were found on the .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle that police say is the murder weapon.
A former Cedar Rapids police crime scene investigator, Brandon Boesenberg, who was with the department at the time of the murders on June 15, 2021, testified Wednesday during the triple murder trial that the rifle’s case was found under Alexander Jackson’s bed.
There also were numerous other guns found in the house — under the bed and on top of storage area in master bedroom — and in a safe in the basement. But Boesenberg said the weapon used to kill Jan Jackson, 61, his wife, Melissa, 68, and their daughter, Sabrina, 19, was the .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. All the shell casings and live rounds investigators recovered in the house were .22 caliber ammunition.
Jackson, 22, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
The prosecution will continues its case Thursday and will play a video of the police interview with Jackson. The trial may wrap up early next week.
Boesenberg said he placed the latent prints that matched Jackson’s palm prints on the gun to determine how someone was holding the rifle. He demonstrated in court how the rifle would have been held with the muzzle pointing down to the floor or to the person’s feet.
Boesenburg said fingerprints are delicate and can be easily smudged or smeared. But these prints were “good quality” and showed correlated ridge areas to Jackson’s prints. If there was a struggle over the gun — Jackson said he struggled with an unknown intruder he blamed for the murders — the prints would have been smeared or smudged, Boesenburg testified.
Jackson was shot in the foot, his lawyer has said. But police think Jackson shot himself in trying to cover up his crime.
First Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter asked Boesenberg if a circular pattern around Jackson’s foot injury could be the barrel of the rifle. Boesenberg told jurors it appears to be.
Boesenberg testified Wednesday, as did other police officers in previous testimony, that there were no signs of an intruder or a forced entry into the house. The basement door, where Jackson said the intruder escaped, wasn’t damaged by someone kicking it in or prying it open. No latch was broken or the framing damaged.
Surveillance camera videos from the neighborhood also didn’t show anyone coming or going from the Jackson house during those early hours when Jackson called 911.
Boesenberg said there was no signs of a struggle in the house. The furniture appeared to be in normal positions.
Slaughter asked, for example, if there were any pieces of a puzzle found on a coffee table in the basement area, near where father Jan Jackson’s body was found. Boesenburg said no pieces were found on the floor — the puzzle was still on the table.
Boesenberg also testified that the rifle is unusual in that it didn’t have to be cocked before shooting a bullet. The magazine holds 11 rounds, but it would have been reloaded more than once based on the number of gun injuries to Jan, Melissa and Sabrina.
Boesenberg said he had to go online to learn how to load the rifle. In showing it to the jury, he explained how it ejected bullets from the bottom, while most weapons ejects bullets to the right side or top.
Tyler Johnston, Jackson’s lawyer, grilled Boesenberg about one palm print taken from the gun that wasn’t identified in a fingerprint database.
Boesenberg said it wasn’t good enough in quality to find a match. Johnston suggested that print may have led to the intruder.
Boesenberg also identified photos of blood stains and spent shell casings in the areas where the three family members were found.
There was a photo of blood stains in the hallway near Jan Jackson’s body. Boesenberg said the bloody footprints are Alexander Jackson’s and they go both directions in the hall. There are no bloody footprints upstairs, where his mother was found, or in the basement leading to Sabrina’s room.
One photo showed spent shell casings behind the sofa near Jan Jackson’s body.
In the master bedroom, a photo showed Melissa, the mother, on the floor beside the bed. There were spent shell casings near the doorway and a cellphone on the floor. Boesenberg said there were bullet holes in the bed pillows and headboard that would have come from the direction of the doorway.
In Sabrina’s basement bedroom, which was next to Alexander’s, she was found in bed, Boesenberg said. Investigators initially found one shell casing and thought she had a gunshot to her left eye. But after her body was moved, they found another other spent casing from a wound to her left torso. Her cellphone was found in her bed.
Follow live coverage from the courtroom with Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey. Comments: (319) 398-8318; email@example.com