A Circuit Court judge has denied a motion for post-conviction relief filed by convicted murderer Random Jackson.
Jackson, 22 at the time he was arrested on the murder charge in 2008, was convicted two years later in the slaying of Justin Curcie.
Both men hailed from Wewahitchka.
Curcie disappeared from the home he shared with his disabled father in June 2005, his remains, only bones and skull showing a single gunshot wound, found three months later in a wooded area near Wewahitchka.
Though the remains were believed to Curcie’s, it took seven months for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to confirm it.
Curcie’s murder remained unsolved for three years until Jackson, who had been a person of interest early in the investigation, according to then-Sheriff Joe Nugent, was arrested and charged with first degree murder.
At the time of his arrest on murder Jackson was already in jail on drug charges.
He was convicted of first-degree murder in 2010 and sentenced to prison without the possibility of parole.
Jackson filed a motion in December 2012 citing five grounds for post-conviction relief, claiming ineffectiveness of council and seeking a new trial.
Three of those grounds had previously been denied in circuit court.
One count, seeking relief based on cumulative error was reserved by the court pending an evidentiary hearing on the final ground.
The evidentiary hearing was held last month with the remaining ground for appeal in which Jackson asserted ineffectiveness on the part of Paul Komarek for interfering with Jackson’s right to testify.
Jackson argued that while he initially told Komarek he did not want to testify he changed his mind in order to refute the testimony from prosecution two witnesses relating statements Jackson made admitting to the killing over a drug deal gone sour as well as the testimony of Investigator Paul Beasely.
On the stand, Beasely testified regarding the murder investigation, interviews with five witnesses who implicated Jackson as well as a taped telephone conversation with one witness during which Jackson implicated himself in the shooting death of Curcie.
Jackson appealed that Komarek did not call him to the stand nor notify the court that Jackson wished to testify. Further, Jackson argued the court never made an on-the-record inquiry about his desire to testify.
Jackson argued his testimony would undercut two prosecution witnesses and bring in, through testimony about his statement to Beasley, evidence that would point to his innocence.
Circuit Court Judge John L. Fishel, II, however, denied the motion based on the hearing, taking into account the demeanor and testimony of witnesses heard during the hearing.
Komarek testified that Jackson told him “I don’t think I ought to take the stand” during preparation for the trial and Komarek made specific note of the statement, according to Fishel’s motion filed Aug. 29.
Fishel found that Jackson knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to trial, whether or not the court made an official inquiry.
Jackson testified that after the state rested its case he changed his mind and returning to the courtroom told Komarek he wanted to testify.
While testifying, Komarek said the conversation never took place, that a defendant testifying is a major event in any case and while he would have tried to talk Jackson out of testifying if told he wanted to, the final decision would be Jackson’s, according to Fishel’s motion.
During cross examination in the hearing, the prosecution, Fishel wrote, established that had Jackson testified he would have been subjected to cross examination “that likely would have presented more damaging evidence to the jury,” Fishel wrote.
Fishel found Jackson did not establish that his failure to testify was prejudicial to the defense, denied the motion and further denied the final grounds for relief based on cumulative error.