John Jackson

Hillsborough County, Florida
Date of Crime:  December 19, 1983

John William Jackson was convicted of the murder of Marie Porter.  At about 4:30 a.m. an assailant raped and stabbed Porter in her house trailer on Drawdy Road in Plant City, FL.  The victim went to a neighbor for help and told him that “an orange picker, Michigan tag” had done it.  She died shortly thereafter.  An autopsy revealed a bruise on her right wrist which was determined to be a bite mark.

Jackson, a 31-year-old Caucasian male, had lived in the vicinity of the victim's trailer from approximately July 1983 until a few days before the crime when he moved a few miles away. He lived in the yards of various neighbors, either in a tent or in his car.  He denied knowing the victim or her husband.  The police took impressions of his teeth and collected samples of his pubic and head hair. 

His former neighbors, Charles and Patricia Fuller said Jackson told them that he learned that the victim had been raped, stabbed, and bitten. He made this statement before the police had released the information that the victim had been bitten.

At trial Dr. Richard Souviron, a forensic odontologist, concluded that the bite mark on the victim's wrist was consistent with Jackson's teeth impressions.  FBI Agent Michael Malone, an expert in hair and fibers analysis, identified two head hairs found on the victim's pajama top as being indistinguishable from Jackson's hair sample. These hairs were identified as having been forcibly removed.  Negroid hairs were found in a window screen and a Negroid pubic hair was found in the combed pubic hair of the victim along with several other strands of Caucasian hair which were not identified.  Jackson's defense moved for a judgment of acquittal due to the insufficiency of the evidence, but it was denied.

In 1987 a district appeals court made the following determinations regarding the three pieces of evidence that formed the state's case against Jackson:  (1) Jackson's knowledge that the victim was bitten could have been inferred by him as police had already taken teeth impressions from him.  (2) The bite impression evidence was not probative of guilt because the bite expert, Dr. Souviron, testified “this was not a positive bite ...” and “I certainly hope [the detective] didn't arrest John Jackson on this bite.”  (3)  The hair evidence lacked sufficiency because Agent Malone had testified “it's not a fingerprint, no. I cannot say that that hair came from John Jackson and nobody else.”

The appeals court noted that even if the prosecution case was stronger, the law required the evidence to be inconsistent with any reasonable hypothesis of innocence.  The court indicated there was reasonable evidence that someone else committed the crime:  (1) The victim's dying words pointed to an “orange picker, Michigan tag,” while Jackson's car had a Florida tag.  (2) A Negroid pubic hair was in the victim's pubic hair combings.  The court concluded by vacating Jackson's conviction and granting his motion for a judgment of acquittal.  [11/10]


Reference:  Jackson v. State

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Central Florida Cases, Insufficient Evidence