“The marathon continues” Earnest Jackson’s family says of pardon board denial

Monday afternoon, Nebraska’s top elected officials didn’t grant Earnest Jackson freedom after serving more than two decades in prison.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 1:10 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Monday afternoon, Nebraska’s top elected officials didn’t grant Earnest Jackson freedom after serving more than two decades in prison for a crime Jackson said, he didn’t commit.

His family shaken, but not deterred.

“They bent us, but they didn’t break us,” Brenda Jackson-Williams said after the hearing.

With Jackson’s wife tracy repeating a mantra that’s kept the family going: “the marathon continues.”

Jackson, was accused of being involved in the 1999 shooting death of Larry Perry in Omaha when Jackson was 17-years-old. He was arrested along with two other men, Shalamar Cooperrider and Dante Chillous, and convicted before the other two men went to trial. When Cooperrider had his day in court, he took full responsibility for the crime, said it was in self defense and was acquitted. Chillous also wasn’t convicted in the shooting, but Jackson has been behind bars for 22 years.

“A lot of people on the outside you know believe in our system,” Jackson said in an interview with 10/11 NOW last week. “I’m a person that understands and believes in our system, but I also understand no system is perfect.”

The pardon board is made up of Governor Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson and Secretary of State Bob Evnen. The three denied Jackson’s request, along with three others, as is procedure of the board. But this procedure, left the family feeling like they didn’t really consider Jackson’s case.

“We’re mad at the fact that you didn’t give Earnest Jackson even his own line,” Tracy said. “They lumped him with three other people as if they were nothing.”

In a statement from Governor Ricketts, he cited the fact that Jackson has garnered 275 misconduct reports during his 22 years behind bars, and that some members of Perry’s family were opposed to Jackson’s release as reasons for the denial.

Jackson-Williams, said Jackson got into trouble behind bars when he was young and confused, and has since turned his life around. The governor has not yet returned a request to know how recent the misconduct reports were made.

Regardless, Jackson-Williams said her son is innocent. His attorney, Daniel Gutman said the same, adding that this case is bigger than the pardon board, as Jackson was convicted of being an accomplice to a crime determined not to be a crime.

‘’We as a state have to confront the fact that we have a man in our prison system that’s serving a legally impossible sentence,” Gutman said.

Jackson is up for parole in 2029, but the family isn’t waiting that long to take action, with even the mother of Perry’s child behind Jackson.

“It brings no justice to Larry to have an innocent man behind bars,” Elizabeth Smith said.

Jackson’s sister adding that the attention brought to her brother’s case today does make a difference, even with a ‘no’ vote.

“Now that his name is known to those gentleman to the city and state as a whole I feel that justice will prevail,” Remee Greer said.

Whether the next steps are through the courts, or through the legislature, with a bill that would allow Jackson a new trial set to be re-introduced, the family said this denial has only renewed their fight for Jackson’s freedom.

“Earnest Jackson is coming home. We don’t know when, but he’s coming home and when he does Jackson will be a stand up citizen with compassion.”

When 10/11 spoke to Jackson’s family last week, they had pleaded with them to make what they believe is the right decision.

“God knows I want my son home. After 22 years, I want Earnest Jackson home,” Brenda Jackson-Williams, Jackson’s mom said. “It’s time for Earnest Jackson to come home.”

After the hearing, Jacksons family said they don’t know how Jackson reacted to the news of the denial and said he likely wouldn’t know the answer until he watched it on the news.