PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Prosecutors are appealing a Multnomah County judge’s decision to suppress statements made by Homer Lee Jackson III during police questioning into allegations that he killed four females in the 1980s.
Jackson, now 57, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2015 after spending two days with homicide detectives being interrogated. He is charged with 12 counts of aggravated murder.
Police said Jackson is linked to these 4 deaths:
— Essie Jackson, 23. Her body was found March 23, 1983 long the western edge of Overlook Park in North Portland.
— Tonja Harry, 19. Her body was recovered from the Columbia Slough in West Delta Park on July 9, 1983.
–Angela Anderson, 14. The teen’s body was found September 2, 1983 in a vacant house in the 400 block of NE Going Street.
— Latanga Watts, 29. Her body was found on March 18, 1987 on N. Going Avenue.
Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Michael A. Greenlick outlined his decision on Oct. 3, 2017 on why he granted Jackson’s motion, filed by his criminal defense attorneys, to suppress statements Jackson gave to police during his interrogation on Oct. 15 and Oct. 16, 2015.
Greenlick determined that the two Portland Police cold case homicide detectives assigned to the case used improper and coercive tactics, specifically; the statements Jackson gave were “made under the influence of fear produced by threaths (and promises of leniency.)” Jackson’s interrogation last more than 7 hours and spanned two days, according to court records.
Recently, Greenlick ruled that statements Jackson made to his sister during a phone call that was monitored by detectives can be suppressed. It’s another blow to the state’s case against Jackson.
Homicide detectives James Lawrence and Meredith Hopper told Jackson that he would have a chance to call his mother and sister at some point – while at police headquarters – and that the phone would be placed on speaker phone and it would be monitored.
Greenlick, in his decision to suppress the phone call statements, determined that Jackson was “briefly shown” a copy of the written Miranda warning form, which he signed the previous day on Oct. 15, 2015. Jackson was asked if he still understood the rights on the form. Jackson looked at the form for a few seconds and replied “um-hm.” The detectives never read Jackson his Miranda rights on the second day of continued interrogation.
“The interrogation continued in a similar fashion and form as it had occurred the day before on October 15, 2015,” Greenlick wrote in his decision. “The general themes reasserted to [Jackson] were that it would be better for him if he confessed; that the State’s case was so strong that there was no doubt that [Jackson] was guilty of multiple murders; and that [Jackson’s] claims of having no memory would continue to victimize the families.”
Records show that on Oct. 16, 2015, at approximately 10:30 a.m., after a 30 minute break of police questioning, Jackson told detectives that photos of Essie Jackson might help refresh his memory. Detectives told Jackson that they would have someone bring the photos while detectives dialed the phone number for Jackson’s mother.
“[Jackson] leaves a voice message for his mother, explaining that he is being booked for murder. Detective Lawrence interjects the term ‘aggravated murder,’” according to Greenlick’s ruling.
A short time later, Jackson had a conversation with his sister. The conversation was on speaker phone and Detective Lawrence and Detective Hopper were present.
“During this conversation, [Jackson] makes admissions that he committed one of the murders now charged by indictment,” Greenlick wrote.
Greenlick determined that the statements Jackson made to his sister must be suppressed because “merely showing [Jackson] the Miranda warnings form – which he had previously signed – did not dispel the prior taint because that form was only shown to [Jackson] briefly and not read aloud.”
“Detectives interrogated defendant up to the moment they allowed him to make monitored phone calls to his mother and sister,” Greenlick wrote. “Detective Lawrence participated in both telephone conversations. At the time the phone calls were placed, [Jackson] understood that the interrogation would continue after the calls because detectives were planning on showing him an additional photograph of a victim to possibly assist his recollection of events. In fact, the interrogation did continue after the phone call to [Jackson’s] sister.”
Prosecutors have theorized that Jackson may have killed so many people that he has lost count – over the decades – of the exact number of victims.
All four victims were African American females. Each worked as a prostitute in North and Northeast Portland. They were known to work Northeast Union Avenue, now known as Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., according to court documents.
In each case, according to the state, the victim’s breasts were exposed and the pants of each victim was either unzipped, unbuttoned or pulled down. They each died from some sort of asphyxiation.
Jackson’s criminal defense attorneys, Conor Husbey and Dean Smith, dispute the state’s claims.
“The crimes and scenes are much more different than they are the same,” Smith wrote in recently filed court documents. “Detective Lawrence asserted he had observed ‘obvious similarities’ in the homicides of Tonja Harry, Angela Anderson and Latanga Watts. Detective Lawrence turns out to be mistaken about much of what appeared obvious to him.”
“If one looks beyond the handful of superficial similarities in the cases of the victims in the charged cases, it becomes abundantly clear the evidence does not point to a single assailant,” Smith wrote. “There is no ‘Mark of Zorro.’ There is no signature pattern. No matter what you look at – injuries, condition of the clothes, locations of the crime scenes, etc. – you will find these are not “ signature crimes.”
Jackson is scheduled to appear before Judge Greenlick on Thursday morning for a motions hearing, but it was canceled because of the DA’s Office appeal.
A trial date has tentatively been set for June 2018.