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Sentence: Life times three

Victoria Jackson is convicted and quickly sentenced for kidnapping and executing of her brother-in-law.

By CARRIE WEIMAR
Published September 22, 2006


TAMPA - Victoria Jackson stood silently with her head bowed as the court clerk read the verdict in her first-degree murder trial Thursday.

The jury found her guilty on all charges in the kidnapping and death of her brother-in-law, 39-year-old Jeffrey Dampier, a lottery winner turned popcorn entrepreneur.

After jurors left the courtroom, Jackson, 23, turned around to comfort her grieving mother. "Jeffrey forgives me," she said.

After a four-day trial, it took the jury just two hours to find Jackson guilty of first-degree murder, armed kidnapping and armed carjacking.

Because first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole, Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta proceeded directly to the penalty phase. He sentenced Jackson to life in prison for each of the charges, to be served consecutively.

Jackson, dressed in a navy blue suit and white shirt, hobbled silently out of the courtroom, her hands and feet shackled.

Dampier's father, Jeffrey Dampier Sr., 61, said hearing the guilty verdict lifted a tremendous weight from his shoulders.

"I think everything was correct," he said. "I think the state did a good job. I'm very happy. I think my family is happy."

But Terri Jackson, Victoria Jackson's sister, who was with her the night of the murder, was outraged. She said her sister was the victim, not Dampier, who initiated a sexual relationship with Victoria Jackson when she was 15 and he was 32.

"They knew she was just 15 when he started messing with her," said Terri Jackson, 27. "Where's the justice for her?"

According to court testimony, the plan to rob Dampier was hatched the night of July 26, 2005, when Victoria Jackson called him to her Brandon apartment.

She and her boyfriend, Nathaniel Jackson, who is not related, bound Dampier's hands with shoelaces. Then Nathaniel Jackson pointed a gun at Dampier and forced him into his van, according to prosecutor Jalal Harb.

After they drove through southern Hillsborough County, Nathaniel Jackson handed the gun to his girlfriend and said, "Shoot him or I'll shoot you."

Victoria Jackson squeezed the trigger, firing once in the back of Dampier's head.

In his closing statement to jurors Thursday, Victoria Jackson's lawyer, Kenneth Littman, said his client was caught between two dominant men who controlled her life.

Since finding her father hanging in the garage of the family's suburban Chicago home at age 15, Victoria Jackson's life skidded downhill, he said. She began using drugs and dropped out of school, according to court testimony.

Shortly afterward, she formed a relationship with Dampier that turned sexual.

Throughout the trial, Littman maintained his client suffered from "battered spouse syndrome" and acted as though she had no will of her own.

Littman placed the blame on Nathaniel Jackson, saying it was jealousy, not greed, that inspired him to kill Dampier.

"This isn't a robbery," Littman said. "This is revenge. This is, 'I've had it with you.' "

Nathaniel Jackson, 25, resented Dampier for his easy fortune and his affair with Victoria Jackson, Littman told jurors.

Dampier, the owner of Kassie's Gourmet Popcorn in Tampa's Channelside entertainment district, was also married to Victoria Jackson's sister, Crystal.

Dampier showered Victoria Jackson with presents from his $20-million lottery earnings and paid for her apartment. While Nathaniel Jackson was torn between his anger at Dampier and the desire for his money, Victoria Jackson had no such conflict, Littman said.

"You kill the goose, then no more golden eggs," he said.

Nathaniel Jackson never told his girlfriend he planned a murder that night, Littman added. By the time they were in the van, it was too late for her to object.

But Harb told jurors Victoria Jackson should be held responsible for her actions. It was she who initiated the events the night of the killing by luring Dampier to her apartment.

"She knew when she made that phone call that nothing good was going to come out of it - at least not for Jeff," Harb said.

Nathaniel Jackson is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 3. He faces the same charges as Victoria Jackson.

Outside the courtroom Thursday, Harb said there was no happy endings in this case.

"Obviously, the jury did the right thing," Harb said. "It's a sad situation. We have no winners in our business."

Carrie Weimar can be reached at 813 226-3416 or cweimar@sptimes.com.

[Last modified September 22, 2006, 01:09:35]


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