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Man Sentenced in 1987 Murder

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CLEARWATER, FLA. — A Florida jury sentenced afugitive-turned-minister to 14 years in prison yesterday for a murdercommitted 11 years ago.

Calvin Jackson was convicted of the murder of Toby Brown in PinellasCounty. Witnesses said Brown made several racial slurs, and Jackson shothim.

Jackson then fled to Duplin County in southeastern North Carolina,where he married and became a minister, leading a quiet life.

Last October, his Wilson parishioners and friends were astonished tolearn he was wanted on a murder charge. Dozens of people went to Floridato speak on his behalf.

They came almost 50 strong, members of his church congregation, toplead for mercy for one of their own. They came to speak on behalf theJackson they know: Air Force veteran, college graduate, ordained minister,second-degree murderer.

At a hearing Friday that sometimes resembled a revival meeting andat others a modern version of "This is Your Life," more than a dozenfaithful from St. Paul Church of Christ in Wilson, N.C., stood beforeCircuit Judge Tim Peters and told how Jackson put allhis time, money and energy into helping others.

But across the aisle sat the widow of the man Jackson gunned downalong U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park almost 11 years ago. She and her relativessaid they had been unable to put the death of 31-year-oldToby Brown behind them during the more than 10 years Jackson spenthiding in North Carolina under the name of his brother, Curtis.

If Jackson had, indeed, found Christ and was not just preparing adefense for the day he got caught, then why did he not do the right thingand turn himself in, askedBrown's wife, Cindy.

"I am also a Christian, and I do believe in forgiveness. But Ialso believe in justice and punishment," the widow said. "But hecontinued to preach, teach and marry people under a lie. He was not CurtisJackson.... Please don't let this man get out in only a few years."

When it was Jackson's turn to speak, he told of years of inner painand struggle.

I'm more remorseful...than anyone in this courtroom couldunderstand," Jackson said. "I have dreaded this moment of my life, butI'm glad it has come down to this moment because I have a chance to sayI'm sorry."

Jackson, 33, pointed out that he had never been in trouble beforekilling Toby Brown, and has not been in trouble since. He said heconsiders himself an example ofhow someone who does something bad can turn his life around.

"I ask you for a second chance because I believe in my heart...someday, somehow, I can make others see," he told the judge.

When it came time to announce the sentence, Judge Peters stuck to thefacts of the crime and did not speak of Jackson's more recent activities.

Toby Brown was shot from behind with a high-powered rifle at arange of 60 yards, but he also had taunted Jackson with racial slurs forhours and then fought with and bloodied Jackson's best friend,the judge said.

"That does not mean that the defendant could summarily executeToby Brown because he was not a nice person that night," the judge said."I think the jury could have found you guilty of first-degreemurder. I don't think there is any doubt you are truly guilty ofsecond-degree murder."

Jackson was sentenced to 14 years in prison, far longer than theminimum mandatory three-year term requested by defense lawyer JohnnieTrevena, somewhat shorter than the 17 or more yearsrequested by Assistant State Attorney Michael Marr. The judgedeclined Marr's request that he bar Jackson from ever making money frombook or movie deals.

Afterward, Cindy Brown said she was satisfied with the punishment.Jackson, who was allowed to hug, kiss and shake hands with everyone whocame to support him, said he would use the time to save souls in prison.

"I have no anger in my heart whatsoever," Jackson said as he wassurrounded by television cameras. "This is a new beginning. This is theunfolding of a new and prosperous life. I won't be behind bars forever."From Staff and Tampa Tribune reports

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