State’s Attorney speaks on planned plea in SU racist graffiti case

SALISBURY, Md. – 47 ABC continues to learn more about the plea planned for Friday morning in the Salisbury University racist graffiti case. On Tuesday, we sat down with Wicomico County State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes, who says she’s limited in what she can say ahead of the plea, but that she’s looking forward to putting the case behind her.

“What I’m not at liberty to say right now are the details of the investigation,” Dykes said.

On Friday, 54-year-old Jerome Kevin Jackson is planning to plead guilty to the crime, referred to as a hate crime, as investigators say he’s responsible for five incidents of racist graffiti found on Salisbury University’s campus. Investigators say after reviewing hours and hours of surveillance video, Jackson was identified as a suspect in February by the university’s police department.

But with his plea just now coming in June, some students from the university are wondering what took so long to bring him to court.

“The standard for charging is probable cause, so while I might have a suspect, that is different than having probable cause,” Dykes said.

Dykes says although Jackson has been the sole suspect all along, it took months to work with campus police to build their case against him.  To do that, University President Doctor Charles Wight says the campus police combed through “an enormous amount of evidence and information.” That evidence will land Jackson in court on Friday, where, if the plea goes through, he must pay the university $494 in damages and faces up to 18 months behind bars.

“Sentencing generally, our office makes recommendations based upon the crime, impact of the crime upon the victim, and a defendant’s criminal history,” Dykes explained.

47 ABC did reach out to Jackson’s defense lawyer, Richard Brueckner, who said he couldn’t comment on the case, but did say: “We are looking forward to a fair and impartial sentence and having the matter resolved.”

As for Dykes, she says her office is looking forward to giving students some sort of peace of mind and moving forward.

“As with any crime, putting a name and identity and holding a suspect accountable, a defendant accountable for the actions, that’s key to peace of mind,” she said.

Jackson’s plea also comes at a time when protests have been taking place outside of the university as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. One protest is scheduled to start the university on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Categories: Local News, Maryland