December 10, 2013 | 12:15 PMELKHORN — An Elkhorn man will spend two decades behind bars after he broke into his exgirlfriend’s home and cut her mother’s throat.
“He was totally focused on killing me,” the mother wrote to Judge David Reddy before the sentencing hearing.
Around midnight on April 26, Dennis Jackson Jr., 38, broke into an Elkhorn home, attacked his former girlfriend and then went after her mother with a kitchen knife.
On Nov. 26, Reddy sentenced Jackson to 20 years in a state prison and to another 15 years of extended supervision for the violent attack. On Aug. 15, Jackson plead guilty to two counts of first-degree reckless injury.
“I have a scar on the left side of my neck where he sliced my throat,” Jackson’s exgirlfriend’s mother wrote in a victim impact statement. “My granddaughter tells me I look like a monster because of it.”
Prior to the attack, Jackson had been drinking and sending derogatory text messages to his exgirlfriend.
Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube said it was “pure dumb luck” that the victim didn’t die.
Defense attorney James Duquette said that Jackson had been drinking excessively prior to the attack and doesn’t remember it.
“I think he had untreated mental health issues, but that was not a defense, it is just a fact,” Duquette said.
After breaking into the home, Jackson attacked his exgirlfriend, by hitting her and choking her.
He then went into the kitchen and grabbed a knife. Jackson’s exgirlfriend ran into her mother’s room.
Armed with the knife, Jackson went to his exgirlfriend’s mother’s bedroom, where the woman was sleeping. In the room he cut the woman’s throat.
“I will never forget the look on my mom’s face when he took the knife to her throat and pushed her back onto her bed. The mental pictures of that night will never be forgotten,” Jackson’s exgirlfriend wrote to Reddy.
During the attack, the woman lost so much blood that the carpet in her bedroom needed to be replaced, according to court documents.
In an effort to rescue her mother from Jackson, the exgirlfriend attempted to pry the knife away from Jackson, which badly injured her fingers.
The woman’s fingers were cut so severely that she needed surgery. Since the attack, she also has had to undergo physical therapy.
When police arrived at the home, Jackson was arrested and the two women were transported to different hospitals.
At the sentencing hearing, Grube entered into evidence photographs that were taken of the victims at the hospital.
The photographs show a deep cut that is about six inches long across the side of the women’s neck.
“I am very afraid that if I go to sleep that when I wake up that he will be there,” Jackson’s exgirlfriend wrote to Reddy.
The sentencing arguments
The presentence investigation (PSI) recommended four to five years in prison for each count. Duquette said his recommendation was similar to the PSI.
“A healthy, treated Mr. Jackson is safe in the community. As evidencef by 40 years of his safe living in the community,” Duquette said. “I think the prosecutor did a very effective job saying this Crime couldn’t be any worse without being a different Crime all together.”
Grube asked for 20 to 30 years of initial confinement and 10 years of extended supervision.
During the hearing, Grube said that there isn’t a worse set of facts that could be applied to the charge of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
On the count related to the exgirlfriend’s mother, Reddy gave Jackson the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and 10 years of the extended supervision.
On the charges related to the girlfriend, Reddy sentenced Jackson to an additional five years in prison and five years of extended supervision.
Duquette said Jackson was remorseful for his actions and accepted responsibility.
“He entered a plea, he did not want to put the victims through a trial or make it any more difficult. He wanted to accept responsibility very early and very quickly.
However, during the hearing, Reddy said Jackson’s remorse was “too little, too late.”
Grube said the victims in case are “two remarkably strong women.”
Why wasn’t Jackson charged with attempted homicide? In an attempted homicide case, the prosecution must prove that a defendant acted with intent to kill someone.
In the charge of first-degree reckless injury, the prosecution must prove that the defendant caused injury while showing an utter disregard for human life.
Jackson’s exgirlfriend ended their relationship several months earlier, and Jackson was reportedly not taking the breakup well.
Prior to the attack, Jackson had been sending mean-spirited text messages to the woman.
When he entered the exgirlfriend’s mother’s room the two struggled when he pressed the knife against her throat.
Whether he intended to cut her or, he cut her as a result of the struggle, wasn’t clear.
Why did he attack the women?
There isn’t a clear motive in the case, which Duquette said is one of the elements that makes this case “hard to understand.”
In letters to Reddy, Jackson’s family wrote that he suffers from alcoholism and depression.
“This was completely unexpected by everyone and anyone,” Duquette said. “There was little or no evidence that this was premeditated.”
However, both victims asked Reddy to give Jackson the maximum sentence.
One of the letters also states that the woman’s grand daughter has nightmares of Jackson entering the home and “chopping up” her family.
The child was at the home at the time of the attack, but she didn’t witness it.