HILLSBORO — A Greenfield man was found guilty of burglary on Thursday by a Highland County jury and sentenced to nearly four years in prison for the crime.
Gerald F. Jackson Jr., 36, was convicted after the jury heard testimony from five state witnesses, whose testimony indicated Jackson forced his way into a Greenfield apartment and refused to leave when he was confronted.
Jackson was sentenced immediately after the trial to a period of 15 months in prison for the burglary charge, plus 909 days as a penalty for committing the crime while on post-release control.
Judge Rocky Coss remarked that Jackson has an “extensive prior criminal record,” including a previous burglary conviction, and added that Jackson refusing to leave the home made the crime more serious.
The five witnesses included four of the victims of the crime, all of whom were in the home at one point or another during the incident, and Sgt. Gary Schraw of the Greenfield Police Department, who responded to the home and arrested Jackson.
The defense called no witnesses, and while the possibility of Jackson testifying was discussed, he did not elect to do so.
According to witnesses, Jackson forced his way into the home as one of the residents entered, and, although several of the apartment’s occupants demanded that he leave, he refused, even when one man tried to physically remove him.
Two of the witnesses, who were in a different room when Jackson entered the home, said they heard a commotion in the entryway as the woman who entered the home before Jackson screamed and told him to leave.
Schraw testified that when he responded to the apartment, Jackson was still in the home and did not comply with his orders to get on the ground.
Schraw said when he detained Jackson in his cruiser, the defendant attempted to escape custody by kicking the windows of the police cruiser.
Defense attorney Adam King, representing Jackson, contended that his client was invited in by an occupant of the home, and emphasized testimony from four of the five witnesses who said they did not see how Jackson entered the home.
The only witness who did testify to Jackson’s mode of entry was the woman who entered the home immediately before Jackson allegedly barged in.
The woman also testified during cross examination that she left the home before the police arrived, and was never interviewed by law enforcement.
In closing statements, Highland County Prosecuting Attorney Anneka Collins argued, “You don’t have to see it happen to know a crime occurred.”
Collins said while the other witnesses in the home did not see how Jackson entered, they heard commotion as the woman screamed and told him to leave.
“Are those the actions of someone giving permission to enter? No,” Collins said. “Those are the actions of someone who is scared.”
The jury deliberated for little more than an hour.
Burglary is a fourth-degree felony.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.