A federal appeals court yesterday upheld David Jackson's conviction on charges he killed a man during a Brainerd Road drug robbery by firing a shotgun into the back of his head in April, 1990.
The ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston means Jackson will stay in state prison, where he is serving a life term without possibility of parole for the death of Arcadio Lara.
In appeals dating to 1993, first in state courts and later in the federal system, Jackson's attorneys have argued that the key witness against him - a man initially also charged with his role in Lara's murder - was given a plea deal in exchange for his testimony and so induced to commit perjury on the stand. One court after another, however, has said there was insufficient evidence to dispute prosecutors who denied there was no such deal, in a case that hinged on witness testimony because no physical evidence linked Jackson to the murder.
In its ruling, the appeals court discussed an incident in which the witness, Steven Olbinsky, fled to Oregon, was arrested on drug charges and then sent back to Massachusetts in time to testify against Jackson. Jackson pointed to a comment by an Oregon prosecutor that a Suffolk County counterpart had asked him to treat Olbinsky "nicely" and arrange to have him released on bail to return to Massachusetts.
Neither police officers nor Massachusetts prosecutors, when interviewed and deposed, recalled making any promises whatsoever to Olbinsky. To the contrary, the officers involved swore affidavits stating that they were certain they offered Olbinsky no inducements. And the Oregon prosecutor's notes and the tape of the Oregon proceedings indicated that Oregon officials sought to be "nice" to Olbinsky and release him on bail in Massachusetts, but this is at least as indicative, if not more, of Oregon's interest in cooperating with Massachusetts in its effort to prosecute a significant violent crime as it is of inducement.