An Allen Superior Court jury found a local welder guilty of murder in the killing of his friend during a physical struggle between the two in November 2021. Both men suffered injuries.
Weston Blakely is now likely facing at least 65 years in prison – with a maximum of 85 years – for the death of 22-year-old Jonathon Jackson.
Friday, the jury was sent to deliberate after closing arguments, concluding three days of testimony that included expert witnesses from both Allen County prosecutors and a defense attorney trying to swing the fate of Blakely.
It was never disputed that Blakely, then 23, shot his .38-caliber semi-automatic pistol eight times, with one bullet lodged in the door frame of Blakely’s small one-bedroom apartment.
Nor was it ever disputed that Jackson inflicted head and neck wounds to Blakely, breaking through his jaw and sending a tooth out on to the living room floor. Along with that, a stab wound to the neck showed that the knife had been twisted and tendons were cut on Blakely’s hand. Jackson brought his knife with him.
Jurors heard the most testimony on the physical evidence since the motive for the living room struggle or attack was never divulged, only poked at. Perhaps it had to do with a grudge over a girlfriend of Jackson’s seven years ago. Maybe Jackson, described as unemployed and using drugs, was down on his luck and those circumstances caused him to initiate the attack. Several times it was revealed that Blakely picked Jackson up close to his father’s house and then went to an ATM and withdrew $300 to repay his mother.
They’d known each other for seven years. Both of them had gone to Northrop High School and Jackson had spent the night at Blakely’s apartment before the night that turned so violent.
“The victim is right there,” Robert Scremin, Blakely’s defense attorney said, pointing at Blakely dressed in street clothes after being released from the Allen County Jail in August because a speedy trial didn’t work out.
But the prosecution, led by Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tom Chaille and Chief Counsel Tesa Helge, said homicide detectives rejected the self-defense claim when the autopsy report revealed that Blakely had taken the serrated knife and cut a gaping hole in Jackson’s neck.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Scott Wagner said the cut was made after Jackson died from gunshot wounds. The fatal shot to the back of his head incapacitated the victim. The act was excessive and vengeful and removed any suggestion that Blakely acted out of fear, prosecutors said. Blakely had to have shot at close range because the shell casings surround Jackson’s body and there’s gunpowder residue on his clothing and skin.
Even though Wagner said he couldn’t tell which bullet came first – the one to the head or the six to the torso and shoulder – forensic expert Dr. Bill Smock testified that the bullet to the head was first and then Blakely shot the rest of the bullets as Jackson lay in the hallway with his head just inside the bathroom. Smock, a nationally-renowned expert in criminal forensics, also testified that small parallel incisions to the back of the Blakely’s head were self-inflicted.
During closings, Scremin gave a spirited rebuttal to Smock’s assertions, referring to his testimony as “junk science,” suggesting that his findings were based on two-dimensional photos he “eyeballed” as he stuck straw-like posts in to a soft dummy, to represent the victim.
Scremin took out a Styrofoam ball and duct-taped it to a suitcase and then jabbed the ball, representing the head, to show how inaccurate Smock’s recreation with a dummy was, until Chaille objected. He also threw himself on the floor to show how his client was attacked and then took the blows as he curled up in a fetal position.
Self defense needs to show the defendant had no choice but to defend himself, beyond a reasonable doubt. Murder needs to show the intent to kill, even if the decision is made in sudden heat. .
“He was viciously attacked in his own home. He was trying to help a friend. Now he’s sitting over there,” Scremin said. When Blakely removed himself from the living room struggle and retreated to the bedroom to get his gun, Jackson followed. Blakely told him to stop and get out of the home, and then shot his gun.
Stumbling because he couldn’t see without his glasses, he tripped over Jackson, felt him twitch and used a knife that left a gaping hole, he testified. Jackson’s family sitting in the front row saw that photo and another one of Jackson lying lifeless in the hallway over and over again because it could be seen on a monitor.
Friday, the jury decided the prosecution proved their case and that Blakely used a firearm in the commission of a crime.
Blakely faces between 45 and 65 years on the murder conviction, and a 20-year enhancement on the fact he used a firearm.
He’s scheduled to be sentenced May 2.