11/03/2007

Texas cop-killer sentenced to death

By Jennifer Emily
The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS, Texas Juan Lizcano will die for killing a Dallas police officer nearly two years ago, a Dallas County jury decided Thursday.

Mr. Lizcano shot and killed Officer Brian Jackson in November 2005 when police responded to a domestic violence call at the Old East Dallas home of Mr. Lizcano’s former girlfriend.

Jurors in Mr. Lizcano’s capital murder trial deliberated a little over three hours before reaching a verdict and said afterward they did not want to talk about their decision. They could have given Mr. Lizcano life in prison without parole.

After the verdict, Officer Jackson’s parents, John and Valerie Jackson of Rhode Island, held each other and cried silently by a dummy wearing the blood-stained uniform shirt Officer Jackson wore the night he was killed. The dummy still had a red rod in it that was used to mark the path of the bullet that killed Officer Jackson.

They took the silver “DPD” pin from the lapel. Officer Jackson’s wife, Jo-Ann Jackson, put the pin on her necklace, which also bears a Dallas police charm her husband gave her, the letter B ­ “because everyone called him B” and a cross.

“I waited my whole life for somebody like Brian,” Jo-Ann Jackson said tearfully after the verdict. “I am so empty, I don’t know if I will ever be filled again.”

Ms. Jackson, 39, said she would like to forgive Mr. Lizcano but hasn’t been able to thus far and isn’t sure she ever will.

Officer Jackson’s parents testified Thursday that their lives haven’t been the same since their son’s death.

John Jackson told the jury that his wife cries herself to sleep every night holding their son’s T-shirt.

Valerie Jackson told jurors that she and her daughter didn’t speak for six months after Officer Jackson was killed. Gina Jackson couldn’t hear her mother’s voice because it reminded her of the day her mother told her about his death.

“I think the last bullet fired that night shattered a pure, strong heart,” John Jackson said. “It shattered my heart, the heart of my wife, my daughter and Jo-Ann.”

The night Officer Jackson was killed, Nov. 13, 2005, Mr. Lizcano was out on bond on charges of driving while intoxicated and threatening a former girlfriend. The officer saw Mr. Lizcano and ordered him down on the ground, according to testimony. Mr. Lizcano, who already had fired at other police officers, ran away, and a short time later shot Officer Jackson. He was 28 when he died.

Mr. Lizcano did not appear to react to the verdict Thursday or to victim impact statements given by Officer Jackson’s wife, mother, father and sister after his sentence was announced.

Defense attorneys say Mr. Lizcano, who entered the United States illegally from Mexico in 2000, doesn’t understand the verdict. He told them he is looking forward to his 31st birthday, which is later this month.

His attorneys, Brook Busbee and Juan Sanchez, argued that Mr. Lizcano should not be executed because they say he is mildly retarded and has scored low on IQ tests and grew up in extreme poverty in Mexico. Defense attorneys said that their argument was not an excuse but an explanation.

“It’s not like he’s been planning his whole life to be involved in a capital murder trial, so he pretended to be stupid,” Ms. Busbee told jurors.

But prosecutors Patrick Kirlin, Kim Judin and Josh Healy say Mr. Lizcano is not retarded and deserved a death sentence for killing Officer Jackson.

“How does that cause him to load a weapon ... and ultimately shoot, kill and ambush Officer Brian Jackson?” Mr. Kirlin said in closing arguments. "How does that excuse, explain his actions?"

“This man right here is a cop killer, and they want to characterize it as unfortunate circumstances.”

Copyright 2007 The Dallas Morning News

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