Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

On March 13, six of the eight suspects accused in the kidnapping and murder of 20-year-old Mahogany Jackson in Birmingham, Alabama were in court. The hearing brings to light some new details in the hours leading up to her death. A large part of the crimes were caught on camera.

According to local news, the six suspects in the case were emotionless as the legal teams recounted the details of the day Jackson was killed. Police do have video taken on the day of Jackson’s death, but the district attorney’s office decided not to show it and only used screenshots. A few of those details were just enough to get some of the charges reduced or even dropped.

The suspects in court on Wednesday were Giovonnie Clapp, Francis Harris, Teja Lewis, Jeremiah McDowell, Brandon Pope, and Airana Robinson.

Detectives believe this all started over a stolen gun. When the suspects gave their statements, investigators said they told police Jackson stole a gun from one of them earlier, but when that happened was unclear. Then, they say that a gun and some money were stolen from her purse.

The suspects said Jackson was at Pope’s house the day she passed and was trying to get back what she felt was hers. It’s unclear if she got there on her own or if it was against her own. The defense attorneys claimed Jackson questioned him about the stolen gun and money. She even made him strip to prove he didn’t have it.

Pope told Harris to “do something to her” because she made him strip. The detective said Jackson was assaulted multiple times throughout the time she was being held against her will.

Later in the day before Jackson died, she was put in Harris’ car and he, Pope and McDowell took her to clean Harris’ car out — even though the defense claims Harris said they were taking her back to her house. That’s when Harris is accused of pulling the trigger and shooting Jackson in the back of the head.

Some defense attorneys argued the video evidence shows some of the suspects weren’t involved in all of the crimes, and that ultimately led to the judge’s decision to either drop or reduce some charges.

“They’ve made a determination relative to how they would approach and present their case or for what is this hearing or going forward — whether it’s a trial,” Jefferson County Danny Carr said. “Honestly, at this point, it’s just a matter of them posturing and trying to figure out what’s the best route to take relative to try to kind of disassociate themselves with their buddies or disassociate themselves factually as it relates to what’s on that video.”

The judge ruled most of the suspects in the case will face the same charges while others had some dropped or reduced. He decided the details shared did not prove some suspects had a role in some of the charges they faced.

McDowell and Pope were originally charged with sodomy, but that was dropped. They’ll both still face a capital murder charge. Clapp was originally charged with second-degree assault, but that’s now a misdemeanor. She’ll still face a felony murder charge. Carr it was expected for the three suspects whose charges to be reduced or dropped.

“We knew that that could be a possibility just based on the facts and not necessarily see in the video,” he said. “There’s nothing that can substitute the connectivity of the individuals unless you see the video and, therefore, the totality of the circumstances, but they’re still in on capital murder charges. Obviously, capital murder is the top of the food chain. They’re still in on a no bond.”

Carr said her family might be disappointed some of the charges were reduced or thrown out, but they are one step closer to justice.

“They understand the circumstances,” he said, “but they also appreciate what we have in front of us. They understand that this is a marathon and not a sprint. There’s still a lot of work ahead of us, and we’ll be there with them every step of the way and make sure that there’s accountability.”

Carr calls this one of the most gruesome murders he’s ever seen.

“Since I’ve been in this office — I’ve had some years,” he said. “The homicide at the Airport Inn Hotel where three people were brutally murdered on Thanksgiving morning. I actually handled the case and tried it myself. That was a very brutal case. This one—unlike that one—the brutality kind of played itself out in real time because there’s video.”

The case is still being investigated, and a lot of evidence is still being processed. That includes ballistics and rape kit results. Two other suspects in this case are due in court Monday for their preliminary hearings. Some of those charges dropped could be brought back up if the charges are presented to a grand jury later.

Tell us your thoughts...

By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com