(Posted March 14, 2019)
By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer
London resident Tevin Jackson, 25, was sentenced to a combined prison term of 37 years to life on March 3 in the Madison County Court of Common Pleas.
Jackson was previously convicted of the murder of 24-year-old Justin Coffey after a five-day jury trial in February. In addition to the murder charge, Jackson was found guilty of felonious assault and aggravated burglary. Judge Eamon Costello also found Jackson guilty of illegally possessing a firearm.
The convictions emanate from a soured home invasion by Jackson and Coffey on Jan. 22, 2018, when the armed pair attempted to forcibly enter the Lamplight Court apartment shared by roommates William Benson and Zach Edmond in order to rob them of cash and marijuana, according to authorities.
All four men were shot in the ensuing altercation, with Coffey and Benson receiving fatal wounds. Jackson, who claimed to have shot Benson twice in self-defense, was acquitted of the resultant aggravated murder charge.
While Jackson did not physically shoot Coffey, he was charged with his murder due to the fact that under Ohio law, a death resulting of another person while in the commission of certain violent felonies qualifies as murder.
Defense attorney Jon Paul Rion argued that sentences for the murder and aggravated burglary convictions should be merged, thereby considerably shortening Jackson’s overall prison sentence. He also mentioned Jackson’s troubled childhood as something worthy of consideration.
Rion argued that murder was not Jackson’s intent that evening and that a distinction should be made in sentencing between his client and a “cold-blooded killer.”
Costello was not swayed by Rion’s argument.
“You’ve been down this road before,” he said to Jackson. “You know the risks when you engage in this type of behavior.”
Costello ruled against any sentencing merger, deciding that Jackson’s sentences should run consecutively. He cited Ohio case law for his decision.
He also cited Jackson’s lengthy criminal history which began at age 10. That history included a dozen arrests as a juvenile and adult.
Costello said Jackson was at high risk for repeating criminal activity. Jackson’s lengthy rap sheet includes various charges for theft and assault, attempted burglary, receiving stolen property, criminal damaging, and 16 probation violations, as well as a previous 15-month stint in the penitentiary. Jackson was on probation at the time of the January 2018 incident.
Other factors in Costello’s decision included the fact that the crime had a high potential for causing harm to innocent people, as the shoot-out took place in a crowded apartment complex. He noted there were very real physical and psychological consequences for the victims and their families.
Benson’s sister, Tina Ouelette, spoke of the grief at the loss of her brother.
“He (Jackson) took something priceless from me and my family,” she said, addressing the court. “I hope Tevin can live with his actions, because we all have to.”
About the judge’s decision, Madison County Prosecutor Steve Pronai said, “I think the sentence is commensurate with his actions. Two people died as a result of those actions.”