Jackson trial: Former UI student found guilty for first-degree murder of parents, sister

Alexander Jackson was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder after one and a half days of deliberation.

Sabine Martin, Managing Editor

Former University of Iowa business student Alexander Jackson was emotionless on Wednesday when he was found guilty of the fatal shootings of his parents and sister in their Cedar Rapids home in 2021. 

The jury found Jackson guilty of three counts of first-degree murder after almost six hours of deliberation on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sixth Judicial District Judge Lars Anderson set Jackson’s sentencing hearing for March 3. 

Jackson will potentially face life in prison for three counts of first-degree murder, according to Iowa code. 

The trial opened in the Linn County Courthouse on Jan. 13, lasting about two weeks. During the trial, Jackson showed little emotion while prosecutors laid out the grisly details of his family’s murders. While the verdict was returned Wednesday, Jackson looked angry as he was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom. 

Jackson, 22, killed his father, Jan Jackson, 61; his mother, Melissa Jackson, 68; and sister, Sabrina Jackson, 19, with a .22 rifle in their home at around 8:23 a.m. on June 15, 2021. Sabrina Jackson also attended the UI. 

Timeline by Ryan Hansen/The Daily Iowan

Alexander Jackson called 911 on the morning of the killings and told police that an intruder wearing black clothes and green shoes entered his home, shot and killed his family members, and shot him in the foot.  

He told police that he loves his family and would never hurt them. A concrete motive for the killings was never determined, but the state said Alexander Jackson had a complicated relationship with his parents. 

Main evidence proposed in Alexander Jackson trial: 

  • Early on in the investigation, police said there was no evidence of forced entry into the home or any sightings of an intruder on the Ring doorbell cameras outside of Jackson’s home. A neighbor’s security camera also did not show any intruder.
  • It was revealed during the trial that Jackson was on his phone at 6 a.m. the day of the killings, but he told investigators that his phone was in his room. Jackson said he slept on a screened-in porch the morning of the murders.
  • A Cedar Rapids investigator said some prints found on the murder weapon were inconclusive, but a palm print on the right side of the gun matched Jackson’s.
  • First Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter said during the state’s closing statement Tuesday that there was blood spatter evidence in Jackson’s bedroom that pointed to him shooting himself in the foot. The bloody footprints only exited his bedroom.