CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A jury convicted an Iowa college student Wednesday of three counts of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his parents and younger sister in their home.
Alexander Jackson, 22, was found guilty in the deaths of Jan Jackson, 61; Melissa Jackson, 68; and Sabrina Jackson, 19. Officers found them dead from multiple gunshots on June 15, 2021, after Alexander Jackson called 911, and claimed that there was an intruder at their Cedar Rapids home who had shot him and his father.
Alexander Jackson had a gunshot wound to his foot that prosecutors argued was self-inflicted. Police charged Jackson with the killings after he was treated at a hospital for his foot injury.
Prosecutors said Jackson shot his family after his father told him to get a job or to move out of the house. At the time, Alexander Jackson had $30 in his bank account.
In Iowa, a conviction of first-degree murder carries a mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will formally be sentenced March 3.
During closing arguments on Tuesday, First Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter told jurors that Jackson could not give police a description of the man who he said had shot him while they struggled over a gun, The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported.
She said Jackson shot his father as he came down the stairs, then stood over him and shot him two more times in the head. His sister was found shot to death in her bed, and his mother was found dead on the floor of the master bedroom, Slaughter said.
He then went to a bedroom and shot himself in the foot, she said.
“Is money the motive?” Slaughter asked. “Would he inherit all the money and assets from his parents? I don’t know, but I don’t have to prove a motive. There’s never going to be a good enough reason why he killed his family.”
Defense attorney Tyler Johnston said the prosecution's case was entirely circumstantial and no evidence was presented to disprove Alexander Jackson's version of events.
Johnston said that the Jacksons were a happy family and witnesses testified they knew of no issues between Alexander and his family. Alexander Jackson had no history of mental illness or violence, he said.
“Reasonable doubt is all over this case,” Johnston said. “He had no reason to harm his family.”
The killings in a quiet, suburban neighborhood of Cedar Rapids were the first triple homicide in the city since 1982 and only the second since at least 1959, according to a police department spokesperson.
Alexander Jackson and Sabrina Jackson were students at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, about 35 miles south of their home.