Jackson trial: No evidence of home invasion during killings, officers testify

The trial continues for Alexander Jackson, the former UI student accused of killing his family in June 2021. Autopsies revealed that all three family members died of multiple gunshot injuries.

Alejandro Rojas, News Reporter

The trial of Alexander Jackson, 22, a former University of Iowa student accused of murdering his family in their Cedar Rapids residence, started this week. Testimonies revealed there was no evidence of a home invasion and autopsy results confirmed the causes of death. 

He faces three counts of first-degree murder for the killing of his father Jan Jackson, 61, mother Melissa Jackson, 68, and sister Sabrina Jackson, 19, who was also a UI student.

The trial will resume on Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the Linn County Court House.

In June 2021, Jackson called 911 and claimed that an intruder entered his family’s home and shot each of his family members dead, as well as shooting him in the foot. He described the intruder as a Black man wearing black clothes and green shoes. 

He was later arrested and charged with the deaths. Court documents from 2021 stated that Jackson would plead not guilty, and he is being represented by public defenders. 

Cedar Rapids police officer Korie Barber, one of the initial responding officers to the call, was the first to testify Tuesday.  

Footage from Barber’s bodycam shows him and other officers responding to the shooting, initially assuming it to be a “swatting,” which is when police are called to an address with no emergency to trick them. Once inside the home, they found Jan Jackson dead on the floor in the basement and spoke with Alexander Jackson.

The officers then began searching the house, where they found Melissa and Sabrina Jackson dead in different bedrooms. More footage shows the officers searching the house before it ends.

Barber explained he assumed it was a “swatting” because of previous incidents. He said he had not expected a shooting and was frustrated by the lack of information.

Barber said when the officers searched the house, there were no signs of a home invasion.

Cedar Rapids police officer Tim Brown also took the stand and recounted a similar story, including the lack of information from the dispatcher and finding the bodies.

Bodycam footage from Brown shows the officer with Alexander Jackson outside after searching the house. During this time in the footage, Jackson said he was sleeping on the porch with the family dog before hearing gunshots and seeing someone in the house.

Cedar Rapids investigator Ryan Dunbar testified next. After the killings, Dunbar started investigating what happened by going to different residences in the neighborhood, questioning residents, and collecting camera footage.

Dubar said no residents had seen or heard anything. He said he later went back to check the area behind the home, where Alexander Jackson claims the intruder fled. When searching this area, Dunbar did not find anything.

The last to testify was Brandon Boesenberg, a former Cedar Rapids Police Department crime scene investigator. He assisted in the home’s processing, including conducting a 3-D laser scan of the interior and exterior of the house.

Boesenberg said the house was processed in four days, which usually does not happen, but it did this time due to the three victims.


Autopsies completed after the incident revealed that all three family members died of multiple gunshot injuries, Kelly Kruse, associate state medical examiner, said during the trial. 

Kruse said Jan Jackson was shot five times to his head, lower neck, and chest. He also had blunt force injury and deep cuts to his face, potentially caused by falling.

The autopsy showed that Melissa Jackson died from two gunshot injuries — one at close range — to her head, Kruse said.  

Sabrina Jackson died from a gunshot injury to her torso and to her left eye, Kruse said. 

The judge concluded the trial Tuesday around 4:30 p.m., but it will resume Wednesday. 

Sabine Martin contributed to this report.

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