The Supreme Judicial Court today upheld the sentence of life without parole for Garrett Jackson for putting a bullet in the back of a rival crack dealer's head in the Lenox development in 2009.
The state's highest court said the judge in the case conducted jury selection impartially, that a photo shown to jurors of the victim's head with rods showing where the bullet had entered his skull and exited through his eyeball was not gruesome enough to prejudice him and that there was nothing wrong with the way prosecutors had a police officer testify to show how a woman who provided key information to police tried to change her story on the stand. The court concluded it had no reason to overturn Jackson's 2011 conviction for first-degree murder.
According to the court's summary of the case, Jackson, then 22, shot Tommy Speed from about two inches away in the entryway of 18 Trotter Ct. on Feb. 11, 2009 because he was frustrated at the way Speed, a construction worker who also doubled as a crack dealer, controlled the crack trade in the development, a business Speed and his pals wanted a bigger part of.
At the time of his death, the victim was thirty-eight years old, and had been selling "crack" cocaine in the area around the Lenox public housing development (Lenox) in the South End section of Boston for many years. He ran a solo operation and had acquired master keys that opened several of the Lenox buildings, facilitating his access to resident clientele. The victim was the preferred local source for area addicts, both because of the dependable quality of his product and because he was personally well liked. When he was present in and around Lenox with crack cocaine, however, the victim expected customers would come to him for all of their needs before turning elsewhere, and he insisted other crack dealers relinquish all area sales to him.
Still, the summary continued, Speed tolerated the younger upstarts - who, however, had to constantly watch him get sales they wanted, in part because he sold better quality crack than the "bunk" they had to offer. Once, while Jackson, his pals and Speed were hanging out outside a Shawmut Avenue pizza place where crack users and sellers congregated, the younger guys watched in frustration as one user approached:
The victim quickly claimed the customer for himself, leaving the others to grumble about the "effed up" situation and how "somebody has got to be out of here."Inside the pizzeria, the defendant and others continued complaining that it was "time for somebody to take a walk ...so somebody else can get some money."
And that really irritated Jackson and two of his pals, enough that around 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, Jackson shot him so close that police found gunpowder residue on the back of Speed's head - as two of Speed's customers watched. He then ran out the back of the building and into a truck, which then sped off.