Jackson trial: Jury to begin deliberation Tuesday, witness says Alexander Jackson didn’t have security system app on phone

The state and defense brought digital experts to the stand Monday. Both experts said that there was no trace of the Ring doorbell camera app on Alexander Jackson’s phone.

Sabine Martin and Alejandro Rojas

A Cedar Rapids jury will start deliberation Tuesday to determine if former University of Iowa student Alexander Jackson is guilty of fatally shooting his parents and sister in June 2021. 

On the last day to bring witnesses to the stand, the defense and state counsels introduced expert witnesses to review Alexander Jackson’s phone data in relation to access to the family’s Ring doorbell camera app. 

Alexander Jackson claimed an intruder wearing black clothing and green shoes broke into the house. 

Alexander Jackson alleged an intruder wearing black clothing and green shoes broke into their Cedar Rapids residence at around 8:23 a.m. on June 15, 2021 and fatally his father, Jan Jackson, 61; his mother, Melissa Jackson, 68; and sister, Sabrina Jackson, 19, with a .22 rifle.

The defense’s expert witness Kristofer Lyon, a state defender in Iowa City, said there was no evidence of the app on Alexander Jackson’s phone and that if Alexander had recently deleted it, there would have been some trace of it. 

Lyon is also a digital forensics expert, and a certified Cellebrite analyst. Cellebrite is a program used to download data and information from digital devices, such as phones.

He examined data from the phones of the family members, finding that both of Alexander Jackson’s parents had the Ring app on their phones. He also found Melissa Jackson had last used the app on June 12, 2021 while Jan Jackson used it on June 13, 2021.

Under cross-examination, he clarified that although he could find no trace of the app on Alexander Jackson’s phone in the data dump, it didn’t mean the app had never been on the phone. It simply hadn’t been there when the data dump occurred.

The state then brought in its own digital expert, Cedar Rapids Police Department Investigator Jeff Holst. Holst specializes in computer forensics and also works with Cellebrite software.

Holst said he examined the phones found at the Jackson home, and like Lyon, found the Ring app present on the parents’ phones but not Alexander Jackson’s. He also examined Sabrina Jackson’s phone, although the Ring app was not present on it either.

Defense: Alexander Jackson’s high school teacher, friend testify 

Jared Wacker, a Cedar Rapids Washington High School band director, said in his testimony Monday that he was Alexander Jackson’s band director at Kennedy High School. 

He said Alexander Jackson played the flute and had good attendance, grades, and work ethic in the marching band and audition-only wind symphony. He testified that he considered Alexander Jackson’s parents as supportive. 

The state asked Wacker if he knew Alexander Jackson had a 1.59 grade point average at the University of Iowa. 

“Would it be fair to say Mr. Wacker that a lot can change in four years?” First Asst. Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter asked on Monday.  

Wacker said “yes” when asked if he would be surprised to know that Alexander Jackson was failing a majority of his classes at the UI. 

Garrett Barton, 19, testified that he was in Boy Scouts with Alexander Jackson and has known him since 2015. 

He said that “Alex” was never violent toward anyone and was respectful toward his mom. He added the last time he talked to Jackson was in 2018, and he last saw him in person in 2016.  

Alexander Jackson, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the killing of his parents and sister, said Monday he would not testify in front of the jury. 

The trial will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the Linn County Courthouse.