Archive for December 30th, 2011

Death Senctence Upheld for Ray Jackson

DAYTONA BEACH — A drug dealer will stay on Florida’s death row for the 2004 kidnapping and slaying of a woman who stole money and drugs from him, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Ray Jackson, 36, of Daytona Beach told Circuit Judge R. Michael Hutcheson he had nothing to do with the death of Pallis Paulk, 23, whose skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave near Williamson Boulevard in April 2005.

Although Paulk’s death was clearly a homicide, the exact cause of her death was never determined, giving Jackson’s appellate lawyers room to raise speculation.

“I’m asking this court to please give me a fair chance at saving my own life and getting my freedom back,” Jackson said in court Wednesday.

But the speculation didn’t get far. The evidence against Jackson included testimony that he was seen carrying Paulk to a car on Nov. 9, 2004. Some testified Jackson was heard telling people later, if there was “no body, they ain’t got no case.”

Witnesses said Jackson went looking for Paulk after she stole cocaine and $800 from him. The Daytona Beach woman was never seen alive again, prosecutors said.

When Paulk’s remains were found six months later, a medical examiner could not determine the exact cause of death because the body was so badly decomposed.

The Florida Supreme Court in 2009 upheld the death sentence and conviction, finding unanimously that evidence in the case was consistent with Jackson’s guilt and “inconsistent with any reasonable hypothesis of innocence.”

In the appeal that was shot down Wednesday, lawyers for Jackson tried to prove his lawyers were ineffective at trial.

The pair of court-appointed lawyers handling the appeal for Jackson argued in court that the lawyers in Jackson’s 2007 trial didn’t call all the witnesses they could have to avoid the conviction and death sentence.

The lawyers handling the appeal, Raheela Ahmed and Carol Rodriguez, were especially critical of the defense strategy that claimed Paulk was slain by a serial killer.

Back then, veteran trial lawyer Gerard Keating had called upon a Daytona Beach police detective to raise the possibility that Paulk could have been killed by the same serial killer who had preyed on three local prostitutes between Dec. 26, 2005, and Feb. 24, 2006.

Rather than bolstering the defense theory, Ahmed argued, Capt. Brian Skipper on cross-examination pointed out differences between Paulk’s murder and the still-unsolved slayings of Laquetta Gunther, Julie Green and Iwana Patton.

The serial killer’s victims had not been buried or concealed as Paulk had, Skipper testified.

The slayings of the three women appeared to have been “sexual in nature,” unlike Paulk’s murder, according to his testimony.

The three had been shot, while there was no evidence a gun was used in the Paulk murder.

Ahmed called the defense strategy “reckless.”

Called upon to defend the conviction, Assistant State Attorney Rosemary Calhoun and Assistant Attorney General Barbara Davis pointed out the defense strategy could have worked.

There were similarities between Paulk’s death and the other murders, they argued.

Paulk’s remains were found in the general proximity of two of the others, and Paulk had engaged in prostitution, as had the other three.

From the witness stand, Keating explained his strategy was intended to raise “grains of doubt” in the state’s case.

After hearing from all sides, Hutcheson found the defense strategy was sufficient and there were no grounds to overturn the conviction.

“I find the trial counsel acted reasonably,” he concluded. “Even if they didn’t, there was no prejudice. It was a very strong case for the state.”

I do not think he is a serial killer. It also bothers me that the deaths could be used in some wild card shot at scaring the jury into convicting this guy.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that he is innocent at all nor do I doubt that he killed Paulk I just disagree about the accusations against him in reguards to the serial killings.

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