Man appeals death penalty after 3-county crime spree

The Supreme Court of Ohio on Tuesday will hear the death penalty appeal of a Cuyahoga County man found guilty of shooting and killing a laundromat employee during a 2009 robbery, one of multiple crimes he committed in three counties back in June 2009.

Johnson, then 30, went on a crime spree that started in Sandusky and ended in Cleveland with the killing of Tracy Pickryl, 38. Pickryl was still holding the quarters in her hand at the Soap Opera Laundry in Cleveland when she was shot and killed.

Jackson's crime spree began 24 hours earlier with Maurice A. Harrison, 32, and James Dixon, 25, both of Cleveland. The men allegedly robbed Sandusky's Howard Johnson Express North on Cleveland Road, entering the hotel through the front lobby where Katherine R. Schaffer was watching television. They all had handguns.

One pointed a gun at her as he pushed her left shoulder into a chair.

She gave the men money from the register before they led her to the office where they duct-taped her hands and feet, telling her they were not going to rape her.

Hours later, the Walgreens pharmacy off of state Route 2 in Lorain was robbed, where Jackson allegedly pointed his gun at a customer's head. Police in multiple jurisdictions were able to tie the cases together, charging the three men in combined cases tried in Cuyahoga County.

Harrison and Dixon pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the crimes. Harrison was sentenced to 21 years in prison and Dixon was sentenced to 24 years.

Following a trial, Jackson was convicted of aggravated murder, two attempted murders, several robberies, kidnapping, and other offenses.

On Tuesday, starting at 9 a.m., attorneys for Jackson will argue that his intellectual capacity is impaired enough by some standards that the state may be barred from executing him.

Jackson's attorneys believe that the trial court showed bias favoring the state when it ordered a hearing to consider whether Jackson was intellectually disabled. They claim the court held the hearing, without a request by the defense, to try to prevent an appeal on this issue.

Among other claims of errors made during Jackson's trial, the attorneys contend that Jackson did not freely agree to waive his right to jury trial given that he said his head was banging and he was having difficulty focusing during the waiver discussion.

They also maintain that the Cuyahoga County grand jury did not have jurisdiction to indict Jackson for the offenses that took place in Erie and Lorain counties.


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