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Jeremy Jackson

Other Cook County, Illinois homicide exonerations
At about 11 p.m. on July 12, 2000, 32-year-old Mitchell Dotson was fatally shot while standing on a street corner on the west side of Chicago, Illinois.

The shooting remained unsolved until January 2001, when Anthony Powell, who was also known as Anthony Curtis, confessed that he shot Dotson. Powell also implicated Jeremy Jackson in the shooting. Both were 16 at the time of the crime.

Not long after Powell made the statement, on January 30, 2001, police interrogated Jackson. He was questioned without a parent present, which was required by Illinois law at the time. After eight hours, during which Jackson said he was slapped by a detective, Jackson signed a statement. The statement said that Jackson was with Powell and that someone gave him a gun, either a .22-caliber or a .25-caliber revolver. The statement said that after Powell shot Dotson, Jackson stood over him and shot Dotson.

Powell and Jackson were charged as adults with first-degree murder and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

Prior to trial, Jackson’s attorney, Raymond Prusack, filed a motion seeking to suppress the confession, alleging Jackson was physically abused, he was denied his right to see a lawyer, and he was denied the presence of a parent or legal guardian. Prusack’s associate, John Miraglia, a recent law school graduate, appeared in court to request a hearing date. When the date came to pass, Prusack said he was not prepared, blamed Miraglia for erroneously requesting the date, and withdrew the motion to suppress the statement. Consequently, the motion was never heard.

At the time—unbeknownst to Jackson, Prusack was battling substance abuse. In 2008, he would be suspended from the practice of law for three years for alcohol and marijuana dependence, a depressive disorder, an anxiety disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission found Prusack had committed “serious misconduct” in nine other criminal cases.

Shortly before the trial began, the trial judge told Prusack to file a motion to sever the cases of Powell and Jackson because Powell’s confession implicating Jackson was legally not admissible against Jackson. Prusack made an oral motion, which was granted.

On November 12, 2002, Powell and Jackson went to trial at the same time, but before separate juries.

Miraglia gave the opening statement because Prusack was in another courtroom and the judge refused to wait for Prusack to arrive. Miraglia told the jury Jackson’s confession was false and had been coerced by detectives.

James Taylor testified for the prosecution that he was with Dotson and two others on the street corner when two youths approached. He said one of them was Jackson and that as Jackson walked past, he had his hand underneath his shirt. Taylor said that Jackson kept walking to the next corner. Soon afterward, other people joined the group at the corner, including Powell, Taylor said.

Taylor said that when Dotson asked Powell what was going on, Powell drew a gun and shot Dotson. Taylor said he began to run away and then heard another gunshot. He said he turned around and saw Powell standing next to Dotson’s body lying on the street. He did not see anyone else shoot Dotson.

An assistant state’s attorney testified that he took Jackson’s statement which said he shot Dotson as he was lying on the street. According to the statement, Jackson said his revolver jammed after he fired a second shot.

Dr. Kendall Crowns, an assistant Cook County medical examiner, testified about the autopsy on Dotson, which had been performed by Dr. Darinka Mileusnic. Crowns was called to interpret Mileusnic’s findings because Mileusnic had taken a job as a medical examiner in a different state.

Dr. Crowns testified that Dotson had been shot twice, once in the chest and once in the leg. He said that the size of the bullet wounds were different, indicating that two different weapons were used.

A police officer testified that a nine-millimeter bullet was found at the scene. The prosecution contended that Powell had fired a nine-millimeter semi-automatic handgun while Jackson fired a revolver.

Jackson testified and denied shooting Dotson. He said he was walking to his sister’s home near the corner when he heard gunshots. He said he knew “of” Dotson, but had not met him. Jackson said did not see the shooting. He said he had heard Powell implicated him. He also denied that he signed the statement, claiming that he was tricked into signing blank pieces of paper by the detectives and the prosecutor. He said when the prosecutor was out of the room, the detectives smacked and punched him.

A detective testified in rebuttal that Jackson was not smacked or punched during the interrogation.

On November 14, 2002, the separate juries convicted Jackson and Powell of first-degree murder and unlawful discharge of a firearm. They were each sentenced to 50 years in prison. Their convictions were upheld on appeal.

In 2016, Jackson, by then represented by attorney Jennifer Blagg, filed a post-conviction motion for a new trial. The petition said that Powell had recanted his statement implicating Jackson.

At a hearing on the petition, Powell testified that he falsely claimed Jackson was involved in the shooting of Dotson because Powell falsely believed that Jackson had been involved in the shooting death earlier in the year of a friend of Powell’s. Powell said he was the only person who shot Dotson.

The petition claimed that Jackson’s confession was false and that police had fed details to Jackson because portions of the statement were a mirror image of Powell’s confession. According to Jackson’s statement, Jackson said his revolver jammed–a very rare, if not impossible, occurrence for a revolver. Powell’s statement also said that Jackson’s revolver jammed. Both statements also said Dotson was shot in the chest, when Dotson actually was shot near his waistline.

In addition, Dr. Mileusnic testified that Dr. Crown’s opinion that two different guns were involved based on the size of the bullet wounds was a mischaracterization of her autopsy findings. She testified that the bullet wound on Dotson’s leg was likely caused by a ricocheting bullet fragment.

The defense presented the evidence relating to Prusack’s suspension and failure to investigate the autopsy which resulted in Dr. Crown’s testimony being uncontradicted.

On June 1, 2022, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Alfredo Maldonado granted the petition, vacated Jackson’s convictions and ordered a new trial. By then, Powell had been resentenced to 35 years in prison because he was 16 at the time of the crime.

Judge Maldonado ruled that Powell’s recantation “cannot be discounted or discredited.” The judge noted that Powell’s testimony “becomes even more impactful” when viewed in light of Dr. Mileusnic’s testimony contradicting the prosecution’s theory that two guns were involved.

Judge Maldonado faulted Prusack for not talking to Dr. Mileusnic prior to the trial. Even so, the judge said, “Powell’s testimony stands on its own. Accordingly, this court finds that Jackson met his burden of proof as to his actual innocence claim.”

On June 8, 2022, Jackson was released with an electronic monitor and confined to house arrest. On July 11, 2022, the prosecution dismissed the charges. He filed a federal lawsuit in March 2023. In August 2023, Jackson was granted a certificate of innocence paving the way for him to seek compensation from the state of Illinois. In October 2023, he was awarded $268,960 in state compensation.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 7/26/2022
Last Updated: 12/13/2023
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Illegal Use of a Weapon
Reported Crime Date:2000
Sentence:50 years
Age at the date of reported crime:16
Contributing Factors:False Confession, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No