(Posted Feb. 21, 2019)
By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer
London resident Tevin Jackson, 25, was found guilty of the murder of his accomplice, 24-year-old Justin Coffey, on Feb. 15 in the Madison County Court of Common Pleas. Jackson also was found guilty of felonious assault and aggravated burglary. Additionally, Judge Eamon Costello found Jackson guilty of possession of weapons under disability.
Jackson was exonerated of the charge of aggravated murder in the shooting death of 28-year-old William Benson, as well as the charge of attempted murder against 29-year-old Zachary Edmond.
While Jackson did not physically shoot Coffey, he was charged with his friend’s 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.
Security was tight throughout the five-day trial. More than 10 sheriff deputies flanked the courtroom as the jury entered its verdict.
It took approximately eight hours of deliberation for the 10 women and two men of the jury to reach their verdict. They had 35 exhibits of evidence from the prosecution and 15 from the defense, as well as 26 pages of jury instructions to consider before coming to a decision.
According to Madison County Prosecutor Stephen Pronai, Jackson is looking at a maximum of 40 years in the penitentiary. Prosecution had initially hoped to enter into a plea deal of 25 years to life, but could not come to agreement with the defense who insisted on a flat 25 years of incarceration, he said.
Defense attorney Jon Paul Rion was satisfied with the jury’s verdict.
“I have a lot of respect for this jury and for the amount of time and consideration they put into their decision,” he said.
The charges originate from what officials called a soured home invasion attempt that took place at the Lamplight Court apartment of Benson and Edmond in London on Jan. 22, 2018.
The defense maintained that Jackson and Coffey had arrived at the apartment only hoping to collect on some money owed to them.
According to authorities, Jackson and Coffey took advantage of one of the residents, letting his dog back into the apartment to forcibly enter the residence and take a stash of marijuana and cash from the roommates at gunpoint.
In the ensuing melée, all four men were shot, with one bullet striking and passing through Jackson before striking and fatally injuring Coffey.
Jackson claimed self-defense as his defense against the charges, as it was Edmond who fired first and that he was defending himself from Benson.
Jackson had previously told authorities that he had been shot by an unknown assailant while in Springfield.
Evidence showed that Benson had been lying on his back at the time that he was shot, with his assailant on top, and that his body bore two muzzle burns on the chest, indicating firing at extremely close range. The bullet, recovered after Benson’s body was removed from the scene, was buried approximately 9 inches into the ground.
A magnum .357 revolver matching the bullet used to kill Benson was found at the fence line of the apartment complex. The DNA in blood samples taken from the fence and the revolver matched Jackson’s DNA.
After the gun battle, Jackson drove himself to Springfield Regional Medical Center for treatment before being transferred to a hospital in Dayton. Edmond, who was not charged in the incident, was driven to Madison Health by a neighbor. Coffey was transported to Grant Medical Center in Columbus where he later succumbed from his injuries. Benson died at the scene, on the ground outside of the apartment.
On Feb. 15, a tearful Jackson looked to the audience and said, “I love you, Mom,” before being escorted out of the courtroom.
Sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 8.