Motions hearing scheduled in capital murder case

John Richmeier
Donald Jackson Jr.

A motions hearing has been scheduled in the case of a Leavenworth County man charged with capital murder.

Attorneys for Donald R. Jackson Jr. have filed multiple motions. District Judge Gerald Kuckelman set a hearing for Dec. 14 to take up the motions.

Kuckelman selected the date for the hearing on Monday as Jackson and his attorneys appeared in Leavenworth County District Court.

Jackson, 40, is charged with capital murder for allegedly killing his two sons, ages 12 and 14. The bodies of the boys were found Oct. 24 at a residence on Hillside Road near Lansing.

Jackson appeared for Monday’s hearing from the Leavenworth County Jail through the online videoconferencing service Zoom. Jackson’s attorneys and Assistant County Attorney Shawn Boyd also participated in the hearing through Zoom.

Zoom is being used for many court proceedings in Leavenworth County District Court because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jackson is being represented by members of the Death Penalty Defense Unit, which is part of the State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services.

Boyd, who is a prosecutor for the case, said he received motions filed by the defense attorneys on Friday and needed time to look through them.

Kuckelman asked if the prosecution and defense have had discussions about the release of evidence through the discovery process.

“We have been in communication about it,” said Jeff Dazey, one of Jackson’s attorneys.

Dazey said the process is moving forward and an order from the judge regarding discovery is not necessary at this time.

Dazey said he wanted to take up one of the defense motions Monday. This motion concerned a probable cause affidavit that was prepared in the case.

By state law, this type of affidavit is not initially made available to the public. But people can request the release of the document.

The Leavenworth Times has requested a copy of the affidavit.

Defense attorneys requested that the affidavit in Jackson’s case remain sealed. But they submitted suggested redactions as an alternative.

Boyd said the prosecution had submitted its own proposal for redactions. Boyd said he did not have an objection to the redactions suggested by the defense.

Kuckelman said he is not inclined to seal the entire affidavit.

“I’m going to deny the motion to that extent,” he said.

But the judge said he would adopt the proposed redactions.

“They do appear to be appropriate,” he said.

Boyd asked if the defense attorneys wanted to take up two of their other motions Monday, one dealing with recording court proceedings and the other concerning a request to exclude cameras from the courtroom.

Boyd asked if the defense attorneys wished to have future court proceedings in a courtroom instead of through Zoom.

Boyd said court officials have no way to prevent people from making recordings from Zoom.

Kelson Bohnet, who also is representing Jackson, said defense attorneys likely will want the next hearing to be handled through Zoom.

He suggested a message announcing that recording the hearing is prohibited could be posted before the start of a hearing.

Kuckelman said a court recorder was taking a stenographic record of Monday’s hearing. The judge said he intends to have the court reporter present for all proceedings in the case.

“She’ll be present at all hearings,” Kuckelman said.

Boyd said he may be able to work out agreements with the defense attorneys regarding at least some of the motions before the Dec. 14 hearing.

Jackson remains in custody at the Leavenworth County Jail.

Kuckelman previously ordered the defendant to be held without bond, according to court records.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR