Monday, December 18, 2017
News Roundup

Rape, murder of Seffner mother may result in death penalty

TAMPA — Kenneth Ray Jackson could be sentenced to death Friday.

A jury in November recommended the death penalty for Jackson, who was convicted of raping and fatally stabbing a 50-year-old Seffner mother of three in 2007.

A week earlier, the same jury deliberated two hours before convicting 30-year-old Jackson of attacking Cuc Thu Tran, who had been among thousands of Vietnamese "boat people" who made their way to the United States after the Vietnam War.

She worked six days a week giving manicures at a Brandon mall. A mother of three, she lived with her two youngest children in a small trailer. Her only time for jogging was before dawn.

That's when Jackson attacked her.

Tran's bloodstained jogging clothes and sneakers were found Sept. 13, 2007, on a grassy berm at the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church on County Road 579 in Seffner.

Her body was found in a stolen van set on fire in a field 14 miles away in Gibsonton. Her throat had been slashed.

Eleven of the 12 jurors recommended the death penalty in November. Florida law states the judge must give "great weight" to their recommendation.

Circuit Judge William Fuente is scheduled to announce his decision at Friday's hearing.

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