WARNING: This story contains content not suitable for all readers.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The homicide of Jonathon Christopher Jackson first appeared like a slam dunk case of self-defense.
On Nov. 10, 2021, around 1:30 a.m., both Jackson, 22, and Blakely Weston, then 23, engaged in a chaotic physical fight. Blakely sustained many stab and incision wounds to his head, neck, back and hands, lost a tooth in the battle and tendons in his hand were cut. Blakely said he fought off his assailant with a .38 semi-automatic handgun, unloading the entire clip to fend off his attacker.
Then lead homicide detective Jeff Marsee attended Jackson’s autopsy and suspicions rose, said Sgt. Tim Hughes who testified Thursday at Weston’s trial. The game changer was the gaping knife cut to Jackson’s neck the coroner said was made post-mortem.
Hughes, at that time head of the Fort Wayne Police Department’s homicide unit, decided to look over the evidence and found that Jackson’s injuries were “significant” and were done “by somebody who was extremely angry rather than extremely scared.”
FWPD demonstrated ‘full mount’ confrontation
Hughes and another detective recreated what they believed to be the likely circumstance – Blakely in a “full mount” over the much smaller Jackson, who was defending himself by stabbing and cutting Blakely. At one point, Blakely’s shirt ends up almost over his head, explaining why some knife incisions seem misplaced. Full mount is a wrestling term where the man on top pins down his opponent.
The scenario FWPD recorded on camera and shown in court explained why Jackson’s shirt is soaked with Blakely’s blood, creating a void where there’s no blood below the waist. Blood reappears on the thigh portions where Blakely wiped his hands, according to testimony.
The attack took place in Weston’s apartment at the West Wind complex, a small unit with a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bath, a place he can no longer call home. Blakely’s story is that he picked Jackson up at a gas station near his father’s home and brought him back because he asked to stay. That had happened before. Blakely said he was attacked from behind after excusing himself to go to sleep because he had work the next day.
With no warning, he said Jackson jumped him from behind, pulling him down as he stabbed him on the head and back. Blakely curled up in a fetal position to fend off the blows and then escaped, going back to his bedroom to get his 38 caliber gun. The whole time Jackson said nothing as Blakely said he asked him why he was “doing this” and asked him to stop.
Blakely shot Jackson seven times, the eighth shot hitting the door frame of a utility closet. Blakely said he shot him from inside the bedroom as Jackson approached. Because he didn’t have on his glasses and can only see one to two feet in front of him without them, he wasn’t sure whether he hit Jackson or not.
Panicked that he could still be attacked and dizzy from the violence and loss of blood, he went to get his serrated utility knife beside his bed. At that point, he’d dropped his gun and couldn’t find it.
Defendant maintains he wasn’t even sure if he’d hit him after the shooting
In the hallway, he tripped over Jackson or possibly himself and landed on top of Jackson and felt him twitch. Afraid he was alive and ready to attack again, he ripped the knife across his friend’s neck.
Not only did FWPD not accept the story, but Allen County prosecutors brought in Dr. Bill Smock, an international forensic expert, the same Dr. Smock who testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.
Although Dr. Scott Wagner, the local forensic pathologist who performs most autopsies here, believed the slit to the neck occurred post mortem, Smock said it occurred after Blakely shot Jackson in the head. The bullet entered behind the left ear and lodged by the right eye, immediately incapacitating Jackson, Smock said.
Dr. Smock says some incision wounds were ‘self-inflicted’
Jackson was on the floor when Blakely allegedly pumped five bullets into his torso and one that deflected off Jackson’s finger before entering his shoulder. All the bullets were fired left to right, front to back from less than four feet away. Smock said gunpowder residue disperses from further away. Gunpowder residue was found on Jackson’s hands even after his skin had been cleaned after the autopsy, Smock said..
The neck injury was done just as Jackson’s heart had stopped or was stopping and that kept the blood from pumping to the neck,turning the tissue yellow, he said.
To illustrate the trajectory of the bullets, Smock brought in a cloth-covered mannequin, inserting red dowel rods, much like arrows, where the bullets entered the body.
“There was no forward momentum,” Smock said. “He landed backwards.” His testimony was that Jackson wasn’t lunging at him and there could have been no movement after the shot to the head. A bruise found during the autopsy indicated his head hit the bathroom door as he collapsed.
Smock’s most damning testimony came when he spoke of Blakely’s wounds, all of them superficial and some of them he said were self-inflicted. Photo evidence pointed to parallel incisions on the top of Blakely’s head, made with the edge of a blade.
Defense attorney Robert Scremin was not to be outdone with Hughes’ confident testimony and Smock’s national reputation. He brought in James Kouns, a former FBI agent and now a consultant on multi-faceted investigations.
Former FBI agent for the defense: first shots were to torso, not the head
In Kouns’ opinion, Blakely fired two bullets into Jackson’s torso first with the final bullet to the head. What he saw in the evidence suggested that Jackson was coming for Blakely who by this time had his gun out. He fired two shots as Jackson turned from him, explaining the wound tracks, left to right, front to back. Jackson blocked the shot which is why his hand was up as he fell to the ground with the final shot to the head.
“He would have had to crouch to shoot at that angle,” if he’d shot him on the ground, Kouns said.
Blakely also testified in his own defense, deflecting criticism from prosecutors several times that he lied when he first told detectives during his police interview that he hadn’t slit his friends throat, only to recant. Yes, he did, he said.
“I wasn’t angry. I was scared,” he told the jury. And he didn’t want to admit “that I had to do that to someone that I knew.”
On Friday, closing arguments will begin at 9:30 a.m. Then, the jury will go to deliberate and find a verdict.