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Jury trial set for suspect in LH boy’s homicide

Judge hears Jackson defense’s pre-trial motion

LOCK HAVEN — President Judge Craig Miller announced the date for a jury trial in the suspected homicide of 9-year-old Anson Stover during a pre-trial motion hearing Wednesday morning.

Jamie Lynn Jackson, 36, is accused of abusing Stover — her nephew — and leaving him for dead in a bathtub in her home along East Bald Eagle Street in November 2020.

Miller said jury selection and the trial would begin at 8 a.m. March 21, 2022 and is expected to last until April 8, 2022.

During the pre-trial motion hearing, Miller heard from District Attorney Dave Strouse and defense attorneys Patrick A. Johnson and Brian W. Ulmer regarding 19 subsections of an omnibus motion filed by the defense in June.

Strouse submitted seven exhibits to Miller, including the transcripts and exhibits from Jackson’s January preliminary hearing, two Miranda Warning sheets that were signed by Jackson during interviews conducted by Lock Haven City Detective Richard Simpson on Nov. 30, 2020 and Dec. 2, 2020, and digital copies of both interviews.

Following the submission, Strouse called Lock Haven City Police Officers Andrew Fisher and Gage Fischer and Detective Richard Simpson to provide testimony.

Fisher and Fischer gave similar statements to those made during Jackson’s preliminary hearing in January.

The officers found Stover’s fully clothed body in a second floor bathtub on Nov. 30, 2020 after being called to 657 E. Bald Eagle St. by Jackson’s father, Hugh Jackson. Both officer stated during their testimony they’d entered the home to “render aid” to Stover after Hugh said he was “gone.”

Both officers told Strouse they had not conducted searches following the discovery but were later involved when a search warrant was approved at the property.

Fisher said after confirming Stover was dead, he called the Clinton County Communication Center and other county agencies such as Coroner Zach Hanna.

Fischer said he began securing the area and gathered Jackson and her children on the first floor to preserve the scene.

Strouse asked if either officer asked Jackson questions after securing the area.

Fisher said he asked if everyone in the home was in the room.

Jackson allegedly said “unless you find the man Anson was talking about,” according to Fisher.

Fischer said Jackson mentioned while they were in the room that Stover would fake being hurt, laying in the bathtub before eventually leaving and would urinate and deficate in the house, upsetting her children.

During the defense’s line of question, Ulmer pointed out inconsistencies he found between the officers’ reports, the preliminary hearing and Wednesday’s testimony. He noted that neither officer mentioned they entered Jackson’s home to “render aid” in previous statements.

According to their report, they were called to the home to do a welfare check regarding Jackson, Ulmer said.

Following the officers, Strouse called on Simpson. He reviewed what Simpson did when he was called to the scene and during subsequent interviews with Jackson on Nov. 30 and Dec. 2.

Simpson said he advised his officers to secure the scene when he arrived at the home and didn’t conduct any searches until a warrant was approved.

He told Strouse he only requested Jackson come to Lock Haven City Hall to be interviewed in the police department. Both times, Jackson went willingly, he said.

Strouse played segments from both interviews which saw Simpson reviewing Jackson’s Miranda Rights.

During both interviews, Jackson was not handcuffed or locked in a secure room and was able to take several smoke breaks or use the restroom as she needed, Simpson told Strouse.

Following the testimony, Miller reviewed each piece of the motion often discussing them with the defense and prosecution.

Both parties agreed to hold in advance the proposed change of venue and the use of photographs during the trial.

Ulmer said the defense understood a change of venue could be a burden but felt it needed to be put on the table. He and Johnson intend to submit exhibits in this matter for future consideration.

Strouse told Miller he would review what photographs he intends to use and present them to the defense and the judge for further consideration.

Strouse also agreed to the motion which compelled disclosure agreements with potential commonwealth witnesses. There are no witnesses to disclose currently but Strouse said he would share information with the defense in the future.

The issues at hand for Miller to consider are motions to suppress evidence from Jackson’s home and statements she made during interviews with Simpson; prevent the death qualification of prospective jurors for separate juries for the guilt phase and potential penalty phase of trial; supplemental jury questionnaire; quash notice of aggravating circumstances; an evidentiary hearing concerning the asserted aggravated circumstances; declare the death penalty unconstitutional; and to allow the defense conduct the last closing argument during the guilt phase of trial.

The defense will have until Oct. 25 to file a brief regarding these motions. Following that, Miller will have until Dec. 15 to file a brief in response, Miller said.

Miller did grant motions regarding individual Voir Dire — a preliminary examination of a witness or a juror by counsel; the Commonwealth providing limited daily transcripts to the defense during trial; a requirement that all witnesses providing victim impact statements and judicial review of all victim impact evidence be submitted to the defense; require the Commonwealth to disclose exculpatory victim impact evidence; and permit subsequent filings.

Motions regarding preservation of the crime scene and subsequently allowing jurors to view the crime scene in person were considered moot following a discussion with both the defense and prosecution.

Strouse told Miller the Commonwealth had not preserved the crime scene like the defense was requesting.

Following the hearing, Miller announced the date of the trial and status update hearings for Oct. 25, Nov. 22 and Dec. 20 each at 11 a.m.

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