NEW PORT RICHEY — After less than three hours of deliberation, jurors convicted Andre "Remy" Jackson of second-degree murder in the 2011 death of Hudson drug dealer Theodore Peck.
Jackson, 35, put his hands on his face and loudly sobbed Friday afternoon as the verdict was read. While Circuit Judge William Webb thanked the jury, Jackson sobbed. His mother sat behind him and slowly rocked. When he was handcuffed, he tried to catch his breath. He looked back at his mother and rubbed his face, and his mother put her hands on her forehead.
He puffed and fought for air as bailiffs walked him out of the room. Jackson could face up to life in prison when he is sentenced June 21.
The verdict came after a weeklong trial in which attorneys and experts sparred over what caused the death of Peck, 53. Prosecutors said Jackson beat him to death with his fists in a dispute over $1,000 in drug money. Jackson's attorneys suggested Peck's longtime cocaine use finally caused his body to give out.
Assistant State Attorney Bryan Sarabia asked the jury to notice Jackson's obvious indifference to human life.
After the May 24, 2011, beating, he said, the crime scene showed an intense struggle, with blood on the wall and pillow cases.
He brought up the witness to the crime, Adriane Lewka. Lewka admitted Peck supplied her with drugs and that she was high the night before.
"Nobody is saying you should condone the choices she made in that regard," Sarabia said. "But she was honest about it."
Defense Attorney Hans Grieble argued that the manner of the beating showed Jackson's innocence.
"The evidence is that he punched and hit Peck," Grieble said. "Is throwing a punch deadly force? Is that an act imminently dangerous to another? Does that show a depraved mind? A normal, reasonable person doesn't think that in a fight, when no weapons are used, that someone's going to die."
Grieble mentioned that Lewka's testimony could be tainted by her drug use and that with her view into the house she couldn't have seen for sure what happened.
Peck's cocaine use, Grieble said, was the real cause of death.
Assistant State Attorney Chris Sprowls gave the state's final rebuttal. He said the defense wanted to play a couple of different angles. They wanted to say first that Jackson was innocent, but if he wasn't, it was the cocaine, and if it wasn't that, then it was self-defense or battery.
He took issue with Grieble's characterizations of Lewka and the other witnesses as drug addicts and the implication that somehow it muddied their testimony.
"There's an old saying," he said. "Crimes conceived in hell don't have angels for witnesses."
He called attention to the seal above the judge's chair in the courtroom: a blindfolded woman holding a scale. He urged jurors to think about what it represented as they deliberated.
"Don't have bias," he said. "Don't have prejudice, and don't have sympathy."