Articles from the Tulsa World Herald and other sources

9/2/98 - In Tulsa, a man accused of beating toddler Oz Decator and killing the boy's mother is scheduled for trial Nov. 9.  The trial date for Shelton Jackson was set Wednesday along with an Oct. 9 date for a discovery hearing.  Jackson, 25, could face the death penalty if convicted of 1st-degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of his girlfriend, 23-year-old Monica Denise Decator.  Jackson also is accused of injuring Ms. Decator's son, Oz, who was 2 when he survived a severe beating and being left for hours in freezing temperatures under an abandoned home.  Jackson was arrested April 8, 1997, near McAlester on a bus bound for Houston after firefighters discovered the body of Ms. Decator in her burning Tulsa home.  He reportedly told police he had held Oz by the neck and bashed the toddler's head against a wall.  Doctors initially feared the comatose boy would not survive.  But Oz, who turned 4 in August, underwent extensive therapy and lives with his grandmother in Monroe, La.


9/3/98 - A judge on Wednesday scheduled a Nov. 9 jury trial for Shelton Jackson, who was charged 17 months ago with murder and two related counts in the Oz and Monica Decator case. This is the first trial date set in the highly publicized case in nine months. A year ago Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris placed it on a Dec. 1, 1997, trial docket, but that was later stricken when it was apparent that pre-trial issues had not been resolved. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if Jackson, 25, is convicted of first-degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of Monica Denise Decator, 23. Jackson also is charged with arson, linked to a fire at the 1213 E. Second St. residence where her body was discovered. Jackson faces a third felony count linked to injuries sustained by Monica's son, Oz, then 2 years old, whose survival and recovery after being left abandoned in the cold beneath a vacant house for many hours generated an outpouring of support from across the country. Oz, who recently observed his fourth birthday, underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital in the summer of 1997 to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home.  Harris on Wednesday scheduled an Oct. 9 status conference for lawyers to review any remaining issues regarding exchange of witness and evidence information among attorneys. Assistant District Attorney Jerry Truster said the Nov. 9 date looks "pretty firm" and that prosecutors will be ready to proceed. Chief Public Defender Pete Silva indicated that the mental capability of his client Jackson "will be an issue" in the event that the trial reaches a sentencing stage.  After his April 1997 arrest, Jackson said he had "just lost it" and threw the boy against the floor when Oz "wouldn't stop crying," a police officer said.  He said he believed that Oz "was doing this on purpose to irritate him," Detective Tom Fultz testified previously. According to police, Jackson said he hit Monica, his live-in girlfriend, with a brick and stabbed her.  Jackson is in the Tulsa Jail.



11/10/98
- "Every day is work" for little Oz Decator, according to his grandmother, who brought the boy back to Tulsa for Monday's start of the trial of the man accused of severely injuring him and murdering his mother. Jury selection is under way in the trial of Shelton Jackson, who faces a possible death penalty if he is convicted of first- degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of Monica Denise Decator, 23. Questioning of prospective jurors resumes Tuesday in Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris's court.  Jackson, who was identified by police as Monica Decator's boyfriend, also faces an arson count stemming from a fire at the Tulsa residence where her body was discovered.  He faces a third felony count linked to injuries that were sustained by Decator's son, Oz, then 2. The boy's survival and recovery after being beaten and abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a massive outpouring of concern and support. Oz, now 4, sustained brain damage and underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home.  He was brought in a stroller to the Tulsa County Courthouse on Monday. He is not walking and not talking and has other physical limitations, grandmother Mary Decator said.  When asked how Oz communicates, she said, "He will look at you and smile."  Oz still undergoes regular therapy and "is scooting," she said. Concerning the chance for substantial long-range improvement, "no one is really sure," she said.  The trial process will be "extremely hard, but we are going to make it through this," Oz's grandmother said. She is listed as a potential prosecution witness.  A year ago, Harris rejected a defense request for a change of venue based on the enormous amount of publicity that the case -- and Oz's plight and progress -- attracted.  If responses from potential jurors indicate a problem in seating a fair and impartial panel, defense lawyers can again ask to have the case moved to another county.  "We will listen very, very carefully" to prospective jurors during the selection process, Chief Public Defender Pete Silva said. There is evidence that Jackson, 25, "came from a very impoverished background, not only monetarily, but in terms of suffering abuse at the hands of an alcoholic stepfather," Silva has said.  Regarding the outcome of the trial, Mary Decator said, "I try to let God be the judge. I just want justice."  
 

11/8/98 - In a case that touched the hearts of Tulsans 19 months ago, jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday for the trial of Shelton Jackson, who is charged with severely injuring Oz Decator and murdering the little boy's mother.  Prosecutors will seek the death penalty if Jackson, 25, is convicted of 1st-degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of Monica Denise Decator, 23.  He is also charged with arson, stemming from a fire at the Tulsa residence where her body was discovered.  Jackson faces a 3rd felony count linked to injuries sustained by Monica's son Oz, then 2 years old, whose survival and recovery after being left abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a massive outpouring of concern and support.  Oz, now 4, sustained brain damage and underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital in the summer of 1997 to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home. The grandmother, Mary Watson, is listed as a potential prosecution witness and will return with Oz to Tulsa for the trial.  Oz isn't scheduled to testify, but "he has a right to be here," said First Assistant District Attorney Mark Collier.  "This had a huge impact on his life."  Chief Public Defender Pete Silva said the defense is "concentrating our efforts" on a potential sentencing stage.  Jackson "came from a very impoverished background, not only monetarily, but in terms of suffering abuse at the hands of an alcoholic stepfather," Silva said.  Jackson committed petty offenses as a juvenile "in order to get away from the abusive  stepfather," and was placed in a Louisiana facility that has a documented record of employees abusing children, Silva said.  He said this evidence will be offered as "an explanation for the tragedy that has occurred."  After his April 1997 arrest, Jackson said "he had just lost it" and threw the boy against the floor when Oz "wouldn't stop crying," a police officer said.  Jackson said he believed Oz "was doing this on purpose to irritate him," Detective Tom Fultz testified previously. Jackson made the unsolicited statement that "I'm guilty of Monica, but I didn't mean to hurt Ozzie," Fultz said.  Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris has ruled that several incriminating statements attributed to Jackson are admissible as trial evidence.  A document filed by District Attorney Chuck Richardson said evidence will demonstrate that Monica Decator was pregnant when she was beaten "in the head and face repeatedly with a brick" and "stabbed repeatedly in the neck and chest."  At a hearing Friday, Richardson said evidence that Decator was 10 to 12 weeks pregnant is relevant because Jackson claimed to police that he was defending himself.  Prosecutors think Decator would have been inclined to "protect herself and her unborn child" and would not have sought to "get involved in an altercation," Richardson said.  "We think there was a beating, not an altercation."  Prosecutors contend that Jackson murdered her in order to avoid arrest and prosecution for the injuries inflicted to Oz. There is evidence that Jackson "emptied Monica Decator's bank account and purchased gasoline to burn the residence after injuring Oz Decator and prior to killing Monica," stated a document filed by Richardson.  As mitigating evidence on Jackson's behalf, two young men are prepared to testify that he "essentially changed their lives" for the better while he lived in Louisiana, Silva said. A cultural expert from Baton Rouge, La., is prepared to testify for the defense about "cultural conditions affecting the character development of an African- American male child growing up in the Lake Providence/Monroe, La., area," and about "the conditions prevalent in the locked juvenile facility where the defendant resided from age 12 through age 15 1/2," stated a document filed by Assistant Public Defender Paula Alfred.



11/14/98
- A jury was seated Friday for the trial of Shelton Jackson, who a prosecutor said "brutally beat" and stabbed Monica Decator to death after severely injuring her 2-year- old son, Oz, and before starting a residential fire "in order to cover up what had happened."  An eight-man, four-woman panel, plus two female alternates, was picked to hear the case after a selection process that consumed about 3 ] days in Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris' courtroom.  During the selection process, 37 prospective jurors were excused from service for various reasons, including illness, attitudes toward punishment and the case and lawyers' challenges, with no stated reason required.  Three of the first four prosecution witnesses testified about the work schedule of Monica Decator and her relationship with Jackson, who lived with her at 1213 E. Second St. The fourth witness testified about spotting a fire at that address and directing an acquaintance to call for emergency help. Those opening witnesses drew either minimal or no cross- examination from the defense.  Jackson faces a possible death sentence if he is convicted of first- degree murder in the April 7, 1997, slaying of Monica Decator, 23.  Jackson, 25, also faces an arson count stemming from the fire at the duplex where her body was discovered. He faces a third felony count linked to injuries sustained by Oz, whose survival and recovery after being beaten and abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a massive outpouring of concern and support.  Oz, now 4, sustained brain damage and underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home.  In an opening statement to jurors Friday, District Attorney Chuck Richardson said Monica Decator was a hard-working hospital employee who grew up in Louisiana and moved to Tulsa "for a new start."  Evidence will show that while she was at work on April 7, Jackson beat Oz, shook him violently and threw him against a wall in an effort "to make him stop crying," the prosecutor said. Testimony will establish that Jackson knew that he had hurt Oz but went to an uncle's house to watch wrestling on television and went to a video store instead of seeking medical help for the boy, Richardson told jurors.  In a brief opening statement, Chief Public Defender Pete Silva urged jurors to listen to the testimony and remember the evidence that comes from the witness stand.  Silva has said the defense is "concentrating our efforts" on a potential sentencing stage of the trial, which is expected to run through next week.
 

11/17/98 - Investigators: Man set blaze to hide killing - Gasoline and blood stains were detected in a burned duplex where Monica Denise Decator's bludgeoned body was discovered 19 months ago, investigators told a Tulsa jury on Monday. "I believe this was an intentionally set fire," testified David Hayes, chief investigator for the Tulsa Fire Department.  Decator had "major injuries to her head" and apparent "stab wounds to her chest, which are real typical in bludgeoning-type victims," Police Detective Roy Heim said. Decator's body was not burned in the April 8, 1997, fire at the 1213 E. Second St. residence that she shared with her 2-year-old son, Oz, and with Shelton Jackson, evidence indicated.  Jackson, 25, faces a possible death penalty if he is convicted of murdering the 23-year-old woman.  Jackson is also on trial on a count of injuring Oz, whose survival and recovery after being severely hurt and left abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a widespread outpouring of concern and support in the highly publicized case. Oz, now 4, sustained brain damage and underwent extensive therapy before being released from a Dallas hospital to accompany his grandmother to her Louisiana home. Much of Monday's testimony focused on an arson count, linked to the fire that prosecutors allege Jackson deliberately set in order to cover up the other crimes.  Officials said that although the fire apparently was set in a back room, the odor of gasoline was detectable when they approached the front door.  Hayes said appliances -- including a gas stove and a water heater -- were checked and that accidental or natural causes were eliminated as possible sources of the fire, which apparently did not spread because of a lack of oxygen. Roland Pogue Jr., forensic chemist with the police laboratory, said gasoline was detected on magazines, carpet and a blanket that were recovered from the home.  Heim said Decator's purse was found inside the front door, with its contents "emptied out."  Multiple blood stains were found on a bed and dresser, indicative of "projected blood," he said.  Bloodied areas were found at a height of less than 2 feet, "indicating the impact was just above the floor level," Heim testified. Two kitchen knives were recovered near the bed, he said. Prosecutors contend that Jackson beat Monica Decator with a brick and stabbed her with a knife in the chest and neck.  Ron LeMaster, then a Tulsa police officer, conducted a search with a police dog in the back yard of the duplex one day after the woman's body was discovered.  He said his dog, trained to detect a human scent, alerted him to a brick in the yard.  The dog "wouldn't take his nose off this brick," said LeMaster, now an investigator with the District Attorney's Office.  Testimony resumes Tuesday in the court of District Judge Jesse Harris.


11/18/98 - In Tulsa, Shelton Jackson stared blankly ahead Wednesday as a jury pronounced him guilty in the death of his pregnant girlfriend and beating of her young son.  The panel took a little more than 3 1/2 hours to convict Jackson, 25, on charges of 1st-degree murder, arson and injury to a child.  He faces a possible a death sentence.  Jurors had viewed a videotaped statement in which Jackson admitted beating and stabbing 23-year-old Monica Denise Decator after injuring her son, Oz, then age 2.  Ms. Decator's body was found in her burning home April 8, 1997.  Oz was found beaten and comatose under a nearby abandoned house following a 17-hour search.  The boy survived and lives with his grandmother in Monroe, La.  The jury had the option of convicting Jackson on a lesser charge of 1st-degree manslaughter in Ms. Decator's death.  His defense had argued that Jackson was  not the calculating killer portrayed by prosecutors.  "The state has offered you no history of violence in this case," attorney Pete Silva said in closing arguments.  "(Or) that he premeditated the crime."  Jackson sat with his hand knotted against his cheek and his face expressionless as the verdict was read.  Ms. Decator's relatives, who had been warned by the judge that they could be jailed for emotional outbursts, also sat still and silent.  Later, several family members burst into tears and sobbed outside the courtroom.  Assistant District Attorney Mark Collier showed jurors photos of Ms. Decator, who had been beaten with a brick and stabbed 10 times.  He also showed them photos of a bruised and battered Oz.  Collier said Jackson began plotting Ms. Decator's death April 7, 1997, after injuring her son, whom he babysat while she worked.  "She's dead and doesn't even know it yet," Collier said.  A videotaped statement played for jurors Wednesday morning depicted a stammering Jackson telling detectives how he beat and stabbed Ms. Decator to halt her rage over finding the boy hurt.  Jackson said the 2 exchanged blows and then he hit her in the face with a brick.  "When I hit her I was hoping that would slow her down," he told police after his arrest.  "But it didn't." Jackson covered his face with his hand and appeared to be reading a written transcript as the statement was played for jurors.  He admitted on the videotape that he picked up Oz by the neck several times on the afternoon of April 7, 1997, because the boy was crying. Oz struck his head and his eyes became glazed, he said. Jackson told detectives that he intended to leave town before Ms. Decator returned home and found Oz but that a relative stopped by that evening and interrupted his plans. "Whenever one thing jumped up, something else jumped up," Jackson said in the videotape.  Prosecutors, however, argued that Jackson had planned to kill Ms. Decator long before she came home because he withdrew all the money from her bank account and bought gasoline to burn the home.  On the videotape, Jackson told police that he knocked Ms. Decator to the floor with the brick and then took Oz and hid him under the vacant house.  Jackson said he intended to set fire to the home to destroy evidence of blood and didn't want to burn the child. He told police that he tried to drag Ms. Decator from the house before setting it on fire but she was too heavy.  "I was trying to use the blankets to pull her into the garbage can.... When she was alive, I tried to help her.  I tried to get her into the garbage can," Jackson said.  Testimony in the sentencing phase of the case is scheduled to begin Thursday.


11/19/98 - A Tulsa jury on Wednesday found Shelton Jackson guilty of murdering Monica Decator and injuring her 2-year-old son, Oz, in what a prosecutor categorized as a "brutal, painful and ugly" case.  Jurors return to the courtroom of District Judge Jesse Harris on Thursday for the sentencing stage of a trial in which the death penalty is a possibility.  An eight-man, four-woman panel that deliberated more than three hours convicted Jackson of first- degree murder in the beating-stabbing slaying of his girlfriend, Decator. Her body was discovered April 8, 1997, in her burning 1213 E. Second St. residence. The jury found Jackson guilty of injuring her son, Oz, whose survival and recovery after being severely hurt and left abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a widespread outpouring of concern and support.  Dr. Terence Carey, a physician who cared for Oz during his two-month stay at St. John Medical Center, testified that the team of doctors that treated the boy "didn't really expect him to live, to be quite honest with you." Based on the severe injuries that he sustained, "I would be very surprised if Oz Decator would ever be able to speak," Carey told jurors. The boy suffered "severe permanent brain damage" and "will need help for the rest of his life," he said.  During the doctor's testimony, jurors saw color photos depicting Oz's injuries literally from head to toe.  The jury also found Jackson guilty of first-degree arson in the residential fire.  Jackson, 25, did not testify. The defense presented no witnesses in the guilt-or-innocence stage ot the trial but is expected to call several witnesses during the punishment phase.  In support of their request for the death penalty, District Attorney Chuck Richardson and co-prosecutor Mark Collier plan to present evidence Thursday of the impact of Decator's death on her family members, some of whom reacted emotionally to the guilty verdicts. The other punishment options for first-degree murder are life in prison or life without the possibility of parole. The child-injury count carries a maximum sentence of life.  Chief Public Defender Pete Silva has said jurors will hear that Jackson emerged from an impoverished background, was abused as a child and has previously had a positive impact on other lives. In a closing argument, Collier theorized that Jackson "was desperate to think of a plan" and "ambushed" Decator because he knew he had seriously harmed Oz by choking him and throwing him against the floor or wall.  In a taped statement, Jackson contended that Decator, 23, came at him with a butcher knife during an argument. Prosecutors maintained that blood and other evidence at the house demonstrated that there was no fight, and Richardson said Jackson "beat her to a pulp" before stabbing her. Silva said there was "no evidence that this was one of those battling domestic situations" and said there was no testimony to indicate that Jackson has a history of violence.



11/20/98 - Prosecutors say the defense is trying to make excuses for the convicted killer -
A jury that is destined to deliberate whether Shelton Jackson avoids or receives the death penalty for the murder of Monica Decator heard Thursday from defense witnesses who testified that he had a positive impact on other lives despite early experiences of abuse and neglect.  Family members of both Decator and Jackson, plus expert witnesses, took the witness stand as testimony proceeded into the evening in the sentencing stage of Jackson's trial. Testimony ended shortly before 8:30 p.m., and jurors will return Friday to hear closing arguments and deliberate punishment.  On Wednesday, jurors found Jackson guilty of first-degree murder in the beating-stabbing slaying of his 23-year-old girlfriend, Decator.  Her body was discovered April 8, 1997, in her burning Tulsa residence. That fire resulted in a first-degree arson conviction for Jackson. Jurors also will sentence Jackson for injuring Decator's 2-year-old son, Oz, whose recovery after being severely hurt and left abandoned in the cold for many hours beneath a vacant house generated a widespread outpouring of concern and support.  Dr. Mary Wanda Draper, a human development specialist retained by the defense, testified about Jackson's "life path" and said he is the product of a poverty-stricken, "very disorganized" family background.  He was abused by a stepfather and other male relatives. The "janitor at school had to bathe him because he wasn't bathed at home," Draper said.  Jackson was placed in a Louisiana juvenile facility at age 12 for petty criminal conduct committed "in the hope" that he would be removed from an abusive family situation, she said. District Attorney Chuck Richardson questioned whether Draper was "looking for an excuse" for why Jackson "beat a little kid within inches of his life."  Draper said, "There is no excuse." Dr. Cecile Guin, a Louisiana social worker testifying for the defense, said the two most significant factors in Jackson's development were poverty and his "early propulsion into the juvenile justice system" in Louisiana.  Jackson spent 3 years in a juvenile facility, where he was beaten and victimized by other boys and his stay was extended because officials "couldn't find his family," Guin said. "There is not one drop of controversy about whether he was picked on in this institution," she said. The Department of Justice has investigated Louisiana youth facilities at length for "systematic abuse," Guin said. Prosecutors contended that testimony and opinions provided by Draper and Guin relied on inaccurate accounts of what happened in the Decator case and depended on undocumented information provided by the defendant.  Mary Decator, Monica's mother, told jurors that she cries every day over the loss of her daughter.  "I cry myself to sleep," she said. "I hurt -- not some of the time, but all of the time. The pain doesn't go away."  She said she is "about to lose the family home" because she is unable to work while taking care of Oz. Oz, now 4, does not walk or talk. Prosecutors had sought to have him appear in court during the sentencing stage, but Tulsa District Judge Jesse Harris decided that would be "too prejudicial," First Assistant District Attorney Mark Collier said.  Otherine Moore, Jackson's mother, said she was 14, drinking and living on the street when she was pregnant with the defendant.  She didn't send him birthday or Christmas cards during his 3 1/2 years in a juvenile institution because "I didn't think about it."  Two Louisiana men testified that Jackson had a positive influence on them during stressful periods of their lives. Other witnesses said Jackson had participated in beneficial community outreach programs in Tulsa and Louisiana.
 

11/21/98 - A death sentence was handed to Shelton DeWayne Jackson on Friday night for the beating and stabbing death of Monica Decator last year.  The jury, which was instructed to begin deliberating before noon, sent word about 9:30 p.m. that it had decided what punishments Jackson should receive for murdering Monica Decator, severely harming her 2-year-old son, Oz, and setting fire to their house.  The 8-man, 4-woman panel imposed the maximum penalty of life with parole possible, plus a $5,000 fine, for Jackson's abuse of Oz. Jackson also received the maximum-possible 35-year prison sentence and a  $25,000 fine for the arson. If Jackson had not received the death penalty, he could have been sentenced to life in prison, either with or without parole, for the 1st-degree murder of Decator, 23.  Her beaten and stabbed body was discovered April 8, 1997, in a burning Tulsa duplex that she shared with Jackson and Oz.  Prosecutors said he set the fire to destroy the evidence of his other crimes. Oz -- who a physician said suffered "significant permanent brain damage" -- was beaten and abused in both the morning and afternoon of April 7, 1997, before being hidden in the cold beneath a vacant house for many hours until he was found and rescued.  After about 3 hours of deliberations in the sentencing stage, jurors advised court officials that photographs not marked as court exhibits had been submitted for their review along with the exhibits that were properly marked as evidence. 3 photos of the slain woman that were not introduced as evidence had mistakenly been sent to the deliberating room, along with other photos depicting her injuries that were introduced as evidence, court officials indicated.   District Judge Jesse Harris declined to declare a mistrial but sent a note to jurors admonishing them not to consider the unmarked photographs in their efforts to determine sentences.  The incident likely provided an issue for Jackson to raise on appeal of his sentence, particularly if he receives the death penalty.  First Assistant District Attorney Mark Collier indicated that he did not think the non-exhibit photos would create a problem on appeal because they are similar to photos that were introduced as evidence for the jury's consideration.  Photographs depicting injuries to Monica and Oz Decator were displayed to jurors in closing arguments during both stages of the trial. 8 hours after their deliberations began, pizza was delivered to jurors Friday night.  Jackson, 25, did not testify in either stage of the trial. As mitigating evidence on his behalf, defense attorneys presented testimony that Jackson was the product of a poverty-stricken background and mistreated as a child -- both by a stepfather at home and when placed in a Louisiana juvenile institution for petty criminal conduct.  There was also testimony that Jackson was involved in beneficial community outreach efforts in both Tulsa and Louisiana.  In a closing argument, Collier maintained that Jackson "beat a helpless child until that child's life is ruined" and killed Decator "to save his own skin."  In a videotaped statement to police, Jackson showed "not one lick of remorse," Collier said.  "A person that cold, that brutal, who can't shed a tear for a baby, is a continuing threat to society."  Chief Public Defender Pete Silva said Jackson's mother -- 14 years old when pregnant with him -- was involved in a "dysfunctional relationship with an abusive man."  Jackson was placed in a "hellhole" juvenile institution, where they "didn't give a damn about these kids," Silva said.  "They warehoused them.  They abused them."  As a boy, Jackson was beaten for vomiting when forced to eat food that made him sick, said Assistant Public Defender Paula Alfred.  When released after 3 years in the institution, his mother "never asked him how it was," she said.  Silva said that evidence was offered not as an excuse, but as an explanation. District Attorney Chuck Richardson described Jackson as "a cold-blooded murderer" and said his background is not responsible for that.  Regarding Jackson's assertion that Decator had fought with him after she discovered Oz's condition, Richardson said "there is not one piece of evidence that shows there was a fight between 2 people."  Jackson decided "to sacrifice Monica" to save himself when she realized he had abused Oz, Richardson told jurors.  Silva said testimony that Jackson used a brick -- a "tool of opportunity" -- to strike Decator conflicted with the prosecution's claim that Jackson planned the murder and ambushed the woman on the morning of April 8, 1997.  Jurors deliberated more than 3 hours Wednesday before finding Jackson guilty of 3 felony counts. 


11/22/98 - Convicted killer was an uncle to 2-year-old beaten to death - A bizarre and tragic connection links Oz Decator, who was severely beaten and left for dead last year when he was 2, and Kevin Moore, who was beaten to death in June when he was 14 months old.  The mother of the man who was sentenced to death Friday for killing Monica Decator and given a life sentence for injuring Monica's son, Oz, was Kevin's grandmother. Otherine Jackson Moore testified during the sentencing phase of her son Shelton DeWayne Jackson's trial on Thursday, saying she was a 14-year-old runaway when she became pregnant with him. She said she drank alcohol daily and that Jackson's stepfather imposed discipline on him and his little sister.  "He whipped them with belts and switches and extension cords," she said. Sometimes she had to make him stop hitting Jackson, she said. A child abuse expert said Friday that the correlation between being abused and becoming an abuser is clear in many cases.  Moore's grandson, Kevin Moore, was found dead June 6. Police have charged Carlous Lougene Jackson, 41, with murder in that case. He is being held without bail in the Tulsa Jail.  Shelton Jackson, 25, was the uncle of Kevin Moore.  Officials said they do not think the two Jackson families are related. When they were abused, Oz and Kevin each reportedly were being cared for by their mothers' boyfriends while the mothers were at work.  Police officers in the separate cases said both men admitted having beaten the boys because the children wouldn't stop crying.  Kevin Jackson's mother, Kimberly Moore, 17, is Otherine Moore's youngest daughter. Kimberly Moore was 13 when she had her first child. After the verdict was reached Friday night, Shelton Jackson's mother comforted another daughter, Monica Moore, saying, "Give it to God, Monica. Give it to God."  "I wonder how she (Otherine Moore) feels," Mary Decator, Oz's grandmother, had wondered aloud earlier Friday as she watched over the boy, whose injuries left him with severe brain damage.  Decator said she wished no harm on Otherine Moore because of what the woman's son had done to her own daughter and grandchild.  The two women might share a lot of feelings because of the tragedies, but Decator said the loss of her daughter was different from losing a grandchild.  "You love your grandchild, but your child that came from your body was part of you," she said. Mary Decator, who was a police officer in Monroe, La., before resigning to take care of Oz, said she had just attended a police officers training course in family violence when her 23-year-old daughter was killed and Oz was attacked.   Tulsa District Attorney Chuck Richardson did not know of the connection between the cases until he was informed by a reporter on Friday.  He said the cycle of abuse is very apparent in the two cases and others like them. He believes a correlation exists between a person's being abused and ending up being an abuser, he said.  While not all abused children become abusers, he said, those who do are more likely to become severely abusive.  However, the district attorney said a history of abuse cannot be an excuse for continued violence.  "When it comes down to the issue of someone deciding to do something, I think that is a decision. I don't buy it that you snap and regress back to your childhood," Richardson said.  The sociological factors of poverty and education can be factors in the cycle of abuse, he said. Karen Ravenscroft, the crisis and respite services coordinator for the Parent Child Center of Tulsa, said she wasn't surprised to hear court testimony describing Shelton Jackson's abusive childhood.  "I would have suspected that," she said. "A child being abused has got to be feeling an extreme amount of anger. It's going to come out in one of two ways -- either through aggression or depression."  And Ravenscroft agreed that child abuse is a cyclical problem in which abused children very often become abusers themselves.  It's very difficult once a child has had years of abuse to turn things around so that they can become a loving parent later on down the road," she said.  However, Ravenscroft said, research has shown that not all children in a family with an abusive parent go on to be abusers. In some instances, some of the children have been able to break the abuse cycle by finding a mentor or some other way of dealing with the situation.  As with child abuse, teen-age pregnancy also is something that can be continued through generations, as in the case of Otherine Moore and her daughter Kimberly.  "It's hard for a child to be raising a child," Ravenscroft said.  She said that initially a teen-ager may be overjoyed at the thought of having a baby, because many think having a child will bring them the love and attention they desire. But when reality hits, the young mothers who are the children of young mothers find themselves overwhelmed, she said.  "They haven't seen appropriate ways of dealing with child behavior. They don't know much about child development," Ravenscroft said.  A lack of resources could lead young mothers to leave their children in the care of boyfriends or others who are not suitable caregivers.  "Very often a teen-age mom is rebelling, too, about having to put aside their fun, their wanting to be with friends, but they have to take care of this child," she said.  Ravenscroft said the best way to stop cyclical or generational problems is to make the public aware of the importance of prevention.  "We'd like to help families before we get to the point" where tragedies occur. "We hope to help parents in the child development stages. We hope to help them develop good parenting skills," she said.  She cited several new programs in Tulsa, including Children First and Healthy Start, which provide preventative services. These programs offer education, support and medical services to low-income families and their children in the first years of life.  


11/24/98 - Jackson case typical of abuse - Shelton DeWayne Jackson, the man who beat Monica Decator to death and left her son Oz to die, has been sentenced to death. In the view of most, justice was served.  Defense attorneys tried to paint Jackson as a man who had little choice but to become a criminal because of his horrendous childhood. His mother was a 14-year-old runaway when she became pregnant with him. An alcoholic, she married a man who disciplined Jackson and his sister severely. She said she sometimes had to make him stop hitting her son.  Juries and judges don't cotton much to this so-called abuse excuse. They shouldn't. After all, most citizens who had horrible childhoods don't turn out to be murderers.  But there is a lesson in the Shelton Jackson story. A 14-year-old alcoholic runaway who links up with an abuser is a certain recipe for trouble. And it's a recipe we can, in many cases, alter with the addition of a few ingredients.  Oddly enough, Shelton Jackson's nephew, Kevin Moore, was killed last year by his mother's boyfriend.  In the cases of both Kevin Moore and Oz Decator, the boyfriends said they became irritable with the children because they wouldn't stop crying, and resorted to beating them. Kevin ended up dead and Oz with severe brain damage.  The public often surmises that unrelated parties are the biggest culprits in this massive abuse problem. But in fact that is not the case. Most abusers are parents. And is it any wonder that a girl who runs away from home, turns to alcohol and becomes pregnant doesn't make the best mother? Is it at all surprising that people who came from backgrounds of deprivation, abuse and other horrors don't have the slightest idea how to be parents? It is difficult for people with normal backgrounds to understand why someone who was abused becomes an abuser. It makes no sense. But experts say abusers grow up to repeat the behavior because it is what they learned, because it gives them the feeling of power taken away from them when they were small. Without question, the cycle must be broken. That means applying the resources necessary to help at- risk parents before they abuse, to respond quickly at the first signs of abuse, and to have the resources available to take care of abused children when necessary. To do otherwise is to allow this vicious cycle to continue indefinitely.


11/28/98 - Within a week after Shelton DeWayne Jackson received a death sentence for murdering Monica Decator after he severely injured her 2-year-old son, Oz, Tulsa prosecutors declared that they will seek the same punishment for another man who is charged with murdering Jackson's 14-month-old nephew. Assistant District Attorney Steve Sewell filed notice Wednesday that the death penalty will be sought for Carlous Lougene Jackson, 40, if he is convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Kevin Moore. Sewell alleges that there are two "aggravating circumstances," as defined by statute, to justify the ultimate punishment. He contends that the June 5 murder of Kevin was "especially heinous, atrocious and cruel" -- involving "torture" -- and alleges that Carlous Jackson is a continuing threat to society. A jury that finds at least one aggravating circumstance has the authority to sentence a defendant to death. On the other hand, jurors can impose a lesser punishment for first-degree murder -- life with or without parole -- even if they determine that there are multiple aggravating circumstances. Some observers have pointed out parallels in the cases of the Jacksons, who officials do not think are related. Shelton Jackson's sister, Kimberly Moore, was the mother of Kevin Moore.  At an Aug. 26 preliminary hearing, a police detective said Carlous Jackson told him that he struck 14-month-old Kevin "with his fists in a hammer-like fashion" after he became frustrated while baby- sitting two young children because Kevin "was crying a lot."  When questioned June 6, Carlous Jackson indicated that while the boy's mother was at work, he went to punish Kevin on two separate occasions, Detective Pete Irvine testified previously.  At Shelton Jackson's trial, there was evidence that Oz, now 4 and with permanent brain damage, was physically abused in both the morning and afternoon of April 7, 1997, while Oz's mother was at work.  Testimony indicated that Shelton Jackson, 25, concealed Oz in the cold beneath a vacant house for many hours until the boy was found, nearly lifeless, and rescued. A police detective testified that after his April 8, 1997, arrest, Shelton Jackson said he "just lost it" because Oz "wouldn't stop crying." There was evidence that he had picked Oz up by his neck two or three times and had thrown the boy on more than one occasion. He received a life term for injuring Oz and the death penalty for the beating-stabbing slaying of Monica Decator, 23. Prosecutors maintained that he murdered the mother in an effort "to save his own skin" because she would have sought medical help for her son and authorities would have learned that Oz had been abused. Both Jacksons are in jail. Formal sentencing is set for Thursday for Shelton Jackson, while no trial date has been set for Carlous Jackson.



12/5/98 - Convicted killer Shelton Jackson says he's sorry for his crimes -
Convicted murderer Shelton DeWayne Jackson said he was sorry for his crimes before a Tulsa judge formally sentenced him to death Friday.  "I want to apologize for my actions," he mumbled.  District Judge Jesse Harris followed the jury's recommendation by sentencing Jackson to death for the murder of Monica Decator, to life in prison for the injury of her child, Oz Decator, and to 35 years for setting fire to their residence. They were the maximum penalties for the three felony counts he was convicted of last month. Jackson, 25, was also fined $30,000.  Harris set April 5 as Jackson's execution date, which was automatically stayed for appeal.  Before handing down the sentence, Harris denied a new trial.  During the trial sentencing phase, jurors notified court officials that photographs not marked or introduced as exhibits had been submitted for their review, along with the exhibits that were properly marked as evidence.  Three photos of slain Monica Decator had mistakenly been sent to the jury room, along with other pictures depicting her injuries that were introduced as evidence. Chief Public Defender Pete Silva argued that the photos were "much worse in depicting the injuries" than those in evidence.  Silva also implied that District Attorney Chuck Richardson had to know that they were the wrong photos, based on size and shape.  But Harris agreed with the prosecution that the injuries depicted in the questionable photos were shown in other photos admitted into evidence and that he did not think they affected the outcome. Decator was killed April 7, 1997. Firefighters found her beaten, stabbed body the next morning at the front of her burning duplex.  About 12 hours later, police found 2-year-old Oz wrapped in carpet and left to die in the crawlspace of an abandoned house. Jackson told police that he "lost it" and beat Oz when the boy began to cry. He said killed Decator, 23, because she discovered the boy's abuse.
 

6/29/01 - Man appeals sentence in death, beatings

A man convicted of killing his girlfriend and leaving her beaten 2-year-old son under an abandoned home says he never agreed with his lawyers' strategy to concede guilt. Shelton Dewayne Jackson, 28, is appealing the 1998 conviction that sent him to death row. He testified Wednesday that he thought his defense in the 1997 beating and stabbing death of Monica Decator would be "self-defense or manslaughter." Jackson alleges that the Tulsa County Public Defender's Office provided ineffective counsel and that his lawyers "conceded his guilt, without his permission, to malice aforethought murder."  In addition to the murder conviction, Jackson received a life prison term for injuring Decator's son, Oz. The boy suffered permanent brain damage after being beaten and left in the cold.  The discovery of the child under an abandoned home brought a national outpouring of support for his recovery. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ordered District Judge Jesse Harris to conduct the hearing on Jackson's claims that he received ineffective assistance from his public defenders. Harris will submit his findings and legal conclusions to the appeals court. Jackson's appellate attorney said that his trial attorneys' failure to pursue a claim that Decator was killed in self-defense or in a "heat of passion" act of manslaughter was the "functional equivalent of a guilty plea." Jackson said Wednesday that he had wanted to testify at his November 1998 trial but his lawyers decided that he would not. Pete Silva, chief public defender, said that if Jackson had insisted on testifying, he "absolutely" would have been allowed the chance.


7/28/01 - Appeals court to make decision on inmate's retrial

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals will decide whether a death row inmate should be retried for killing his girlfriend and severely injuring her 2-year-old son. A Tulsa County judge on Thursday ruled that he could not find that Shelton Jackson agreed to his lawyers' strategy to concede he was guilty of murder in an effort to avoid the death penalty. "The court determines the evidence fails to establish Mr. Jackson gave a knowing, intelligent and voluntary consent to the concession of guilt to first-degree, malice aforethought murder, thereby depriving Mr. Jackson of effective assistance of counsel, and prejudice should be presumed," District Judge Jesse Harris wrote in an 11-page decision. Harris' findings and conclusions will go to the state appeals court, which must decide whether to affirm or overturn Jackson's death sentence and first-degree murder conviction in the 1997 killing. Jackson was convicted of beating and fatally stabbing 23-year-old Monica Decator. Her body was found in a burning Tulsa duplex that she had shared with Jackson and her young son, Oz. Jackson severely beat Oz and left him in the cold under a house, prosecutors said. He suffered permanent brain damage and "will need help for the rest of his life," a physician testified at the trial. Jurors recommended a life imprisonment term after convicting Jackson of hurting Oz.He also received a 35-year prison term for arson.


12/23/01 - Murder conviction, death sentence for man overturned

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday reversed the conviction and death sentence against a man convicted of killing his girlfriend and severely beating her 2-year-old son. The court ordered a new trial for Shelton Jackson, who was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Monica Decator. Firefighters responding to a blaze at Decator's Tulsa home discovered her body April 8, 1997. Later that day, authorities found Decator's 2-year-old son, Oz, under a neighboring house. Oz suffered severe brain damage as a result of the beating. The court left intact Jackson's conviction for beating Oz and a conviction for him setting fire to Decator's house. Decator's sister, Bridgit Watson, said the family expected the court's decision. "We're not happy about it, but we aren't surprised," Watson said. "It's still like a shock. We were getting on with life; then all of a sudden memories kind of come back up." First Assistant District Attorney Steven L. Sewell said a retrial on the murder charge would be scheduled as soon as possible. The appeals court decided to overturn the conviction and punishment on the grounds that Jackson's attorneys could not prove that they discussed their defense plans with him before his trial. Jackson claimed he didn't know his attorneys would not challenge the allegation that he killed Decator and would instead focus on trying to keep him from facing the death penalty. According to the appeal, a "frank admission of guilt" in Decator's death deprived Jackson of his right to counsel. Friday's ruling followed an evidentiary hearing in Tulsa in July, where Jackson's trial attorneys testified they couldn't recall whether they discussed the strategy of conceding guilt with their client. Jackson, according to his appeal, hoped to plead that the killing occurred in self defense. In the majority opinion, Judge Stephen Lile wrote that Jackson complained about the strategy to Chief Tulsa County Public Defender Pete Silva and Assistant Public Defender Paula Alfred during the trial but was rebuked. In its opinion, the appellate court said it was amazed that neither defender could recall discussing the decision to admit guilt with Jackson. "I had no recollection at the time of testimony of that discussion," Silva said. "In my 25, 26 years of practice I have always had that discussion with a client. But three years later, at the hearing, I could not recall a specific time that it took place." Silva said he and Alfred are pleased that a new trial had been ordered. They will not represent Jackson at the retrial. The appeals court affirmed a 35-year sentence for arson and the life sentence Jackson received for beating Oz. Jackson will remain in custody. Watson said Oz is not affected much by what's happening. "He still can't talk, and he still has the mind of a little boy, but he doesn't remember what happened." Doctors initially did not expect the child to live. He is no being raised by his grandmother in Louisiana. "We're going to be there at the trial, whenever it is," Watson said. "Oz is going to be with us. I want Jackson to see what he has done. "Justice is going to be served."


2/23/03 - Slain woman's photo to be shown at retrial

Jurors in the retrial of Shelton Jackson for the murder of Monica Decator will not see this or any other picture of her with her son, Oz Decator, who was beaten and left for dead by Jackson in 1997. Jurors who will hear the retrial of Shelton Dewayne Jackson's murder case can see a photograph of Monica Decator as she appeared in life -- but not with her son, Oz, a judge ruled Friday. District Judge Jesse Harris rejected a request by defense lawyers to declare unconstitutional a portion of a state statute -- which took effect Nov. 1 -- that said an "appropriate photograph" of a homicide victim "shall be admissible evidence" when offered "to show the general appearance and condition of the victim while alive." Harris said he will be "very circumspect" regarding what evidence about Oz Decator will be allowed during the first stage of Jackson's retrial. Jackson awaits a March 10 trial on a first-degree murder charge linked to the April 1997 beating-stabbing slaying of his girlfriend, Monica Decator. Prosecutors again seek the death penalty. Regardless of the outcome of the murder trial, Jackson must serve a life term with parole possible plus 35 years in prison for severely injuring Oz, then 2 years old, and for burning their Tulsa duplex. Jackson, now 30, received the death penalty at a 1998 trial for murdering Decator, 23. The state Court of Criminal Appeals overturned that punishment and the murder conviction in 2001 but affirmed the arson and child-injury convictions and sentences. Lawyers for the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, representing Jackson, raised multiple challenges to a 2002 law that allows the "automatic" admission into evidence of a "life" photograph of a homicide victim. This "renders the trial process fundamentally unfair and violates due process, the right of confrontation and the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment under the United States and Oklahoma constitutions," said a brief filed by defense attorney Mary Bruehl. "Due process is violated when evidence is rendered automatically admissible regardless of its relevance or prejudicial effect," and "to ask a jury to sentence someone to death on evidence which is automatically admitted regardless of relevancy or prejudicial value violates the Eighth Amendment" safeguard against cruel and unusual punishment, Bruehl maintained. A defendant's right to confrontation is violated because there can be no meaningful cross-examination, and a 2002 law should not be applied retroactively to Jackson's 1997 case, the defense contended. The "Kristie LeGrange Bill" that was adopted by the Legislature was named for a 26-year-old therapist who was murdered in 2000 during a counseling session in Oklahoma City. Rep. Fred Morgan of Oklahoma City introduced the bill with the support of LeGrange's family members, who Morgan said simply wanted a jury to have an opportunity "to see Kristie as the vibrant and intelligent young woman she was in life." In Jackson's case, Harris said Friday that he is unsure if there would be any relevance to show a photo of Oz to jurors during any part of the trial. The charge linked to Oz's injuries is not at issue at the retrial, but some testimony about the boy will be allowed in order to explain police conduct and to allow prosecutors to present a theory that Jackson murdered Monica Decator after she confronted him because of the boy's injuries. Harris said any testimony about Oz's injuries will be "very limited" during the first stage of the retrial. If there is a sentencing stage, prosecutors want to present evidence about those injuries to support their death-penalty request. Oz, now 8, sustained permanent brain damage. The beaten child was left in the cold under a house for hours, and his recovery generated widespread community concern and support. The appeals court overturned the murder conviction after agreeing with Harris that Tulsa County public defenders who represented Jackson at the 1998 trial did not provide effective legal assistance.


3/17/03 - Fire is focus early in murder retrial

A fire at Monica Decator's home was intentionally set, but there was no sign of burns on her dead body, investigators told Tulsa County jurors Monday. Firefighters detected a "quite strong" odor of gasoline at Decator's duplex at 1213 E. Second St. on the morning of April 8, 1997, Tulsa Deputy Fire Chief David Hayes testified. Investigators eliminated electrical receptacles and appliances as the source, and "it's highly unlikely" that the fire was accidentally ignited, Hayes said. Prosecutors focused much attention Monday at Shelton Dewayne Jackson's murder trial on the scene that police and firefighters encountered at the residence. Jackson, now 30, is accused of fatally stabbing and beating Decator, 23. Prosecutors seek the death penalty, and jurors are hearing some testimony that more directly pertains to two crimes for which Jackson stands convicted. Defense lawyer Craig Corgan has said it will be shown that Jackson "set upon a course" to "create a diversion" with a fire after he injured Decator's 2 1/2-year-old son, Oz. Jackson thought the fire would attract emergency and medical personnel who would find Oz nearby, Corgan indicated. Jackson stands convicted of arson and child-injury counts, and he must serve life plus 35 years in prison. Firefighters found Monica Decator's body in a bedroom. Police Detective Roy Heim testified that her head and neck were "covered in blood." The slain woman was clad only in underwear, and "there was no burning or charring" on her body, he said. Two knives were found on the floor inside the house. A "bucket of magazines," wet with gasoline, was discovered in a bedroom, Heim said. Prosecutor Bill Musseman contends that Jackson, Decator's live-in boyfriend, inflicted "10 identifiable stab wounds" and hit her in the head with a brick as part of an effort to cover up the injuries he inflicted on her son. Oz, now 8 and living in Louisiana, sustained permanent brain damage. The beaten child was left in the cold under a vacant house for many hours. While the case attracted widespread interest and attention years ago, the retrial so far has proceeded in a courtroom in which the number of participating lawyers -- seven -- has surpassed the number of spectators. Jackson received the death penalty at his 1998 trial. The state Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the murder conviction after determining that public defenders did not provide effective legal assistance.


9/19/03 - Murder defendant's relatives on stand

On the day Monica Decator was found dead, Shelton Dewayne Jackson left Tulsa and said he and Decator were going "their separate ways," jurors were told Wednesday. Jackson's mother, Otherine Moore, said Jackson was taken to a Tulsa bus station midday on April 8, 1997. He said he was going to Houston to see his father, and he indicated that Decator was headed to Louisiana with her 2
1/2 year-old son, Oz, Moore said. The day before, Jackson had said he was going to Louisiana with the Decators, which "surprised me," she testified. Moore said she saw no injuries on her son when he came to her home, carrying luggage, on the morning of April 8. The body of Decator, 23, was found after a fire was spotted at her duplex at 1213 E. Second St. that morning. At the request of Tulsa police, Jackson was arrested that afternoon when his bus stopped in McAlester. Jackson, 30, who was Decator's live-in boyfriend, is being retried for first-degree murder linked to her stabbing-beating death. He stands convicted of arson and child-injury counts and has been sentenced to life plus 35 years in prison. Oz, now 8, sustained permanent brain damage through blows Jackson inflicted. Jackson's uncle, Andre Jackson, testified that he and the defendant watched wrestling on television at the uncle's residence on the night of April 7. This was a regular Monday routine that often included Oz, who was not present this time. Andre Jackson said he noticed that his nephew "had some cobwebs in his hair," which the defendant attributed to "cleaning around the house." Prosecutor Bill Musseman has theorized that the defendant watched wrestling after he concealed the badly injured Oz "in a crawl space under an abandoned house." Andre Jackson said that at Shelton Jackson's request, he gave his nephew a haircut that night. He said that while he was driving the defendant home, Shelton Jackson said he "did something to Oz" and "he was kind of disgusted." The uncle said he told Shelton to check on Oz and to phone him regarding the boy's well-being. Shelton Jackson phoned later and said Oz was "doing OK," he testified. Sharhonda Williams, who then worked at a Texaco at 104 S. Utica Ave., testified that Shelton Jackson came there on April 7, 1997, carrying a jug. He said "his car ran out of gas down the street," and she later saw him by a gas pump, she said. Investigators have linked the duplex fire to gasoline. Jackson received the death penalty at his 1998 trial. The state Court of Criminal Appeals in 2001 overturned his murder conviction and punishment upon deciding that his public defenders did not provide effective legal assistance at the first trial.




 

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