A jury in the death-penalty trial of Curtis Clinton, 42, returned guilty verdicts Monday for killing Heather Jackson, 23, and her children Celina Jackson, 3, and Wayne Jackson, Jr., 20 months, last fall.
After roughly 4 1/2 hours of deliberation, Clinton was convicted on nine counts: Five counts of aggravated murder, three counts of rape, and one count of aggravated burglary, and on all accompanying specifications.
Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone asked the panel to return to court on Nov. 12 to begin the mitigation phase of Clinton's trial.
The aggravated murder convictions are for the three victims — one for Ms. Jackson and two each for the children because they were younger than 13. Two of the rape counts are for the unrelated case of a 17-year-old girl; the third is for the sexual assault of the 3-year-old girl.
The aggravated burglary is related to the John Street killings, which occurred in September 2012.
The children's paternal grandmother and paternal step-grandfather are Cynthia and Mick Chaffee of Monroeville. Click HERE to read the three obituaries.
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Below is the article published Sept. 13, 2012:
Details have been released about the previous killing involving the man accused of murdering a mom and her two young children.
Curtis Clinton, 41, of 2027 Campbell St., is charged with three counts of murder and one count of rape. Clinton is being held in the Erie County jail, unable to post a $3 million bond.
On Feb. 4, 2012, Clinton was released from prison after serving 13 years in prison — the maximum he could receive — for involuntary manslaughter and two unrelated counts of assault.
He pleading guilty to the charge related to the death of Misty Keckler in 1999 in Wood County Common Pleas Court.
Clinton originally was charged with one count of murder, which carries a prison sentence of 15 years to life.
Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said his office has given Erie County authorities as much information as they had on Clinton from the Keckler case.
“We prosecuted the case as diligently as we could and kept him in prison for as long as we could,” he said, adding that no one could have foreseen what happened in Sandusky.
“We find it painful that he would allegedly be involved in a similar act of killing a young lady, and obviously it’s indescribable to include the children,” Dobson said.
According to The (Toledo) Blade’s archives, Clinton — then 28 — claimed he did not intend to kill 18-year-old Keckler, who was strangled at her friend’s trailer on April 3, 1997.
Officials testified that Keckler, of Fostoria, was strangled, her hands then tied behind her back, her feet bound, and her naked body submerged face down in a bathtub.
Prosecutors said Clinton killed the girl because she was trying to hide his 14-year-old girlfriend.
Defense attorneys said Keckler died during a “sexual misadventure.” She had died, they said, while the two were having consensual sex — Clinton had accidentally choked Keckler to death.
Defense attorneys said there was no way to prove Clinton had deliberately killed Keckler.
At the time, prosecutors said if the case had gone to trial, two of Clinton’s former girlfriends were prepared to testify that he choked them or was otherwise physically violent during sex, or when they refused to have sex with him.
Clinton apologized to Keckler’s family prior to sentencing, saying her death was “unintentional.”
“I never intended for her to die and neither did she,” he said.
The assault charges were filed after Clinton struggled with deputies at the Wood County jail, biting one of them on the hand, when he was behind bars, awaiting trial for killing Keckler.
In a separate case — before he was ever indicted in Keckler’s death — Clinton pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for an incident involving a 14-year-old girl.
For that crime, Clinton, who was 27 at the time, was labeled a registered sex offender and sentenced to 16 months in prison, which he served while awaiting trial in the Keckler case.
Seven months after his release from prison, Clinton is again accused of being a killer.
Heather Jackson, 23, of Sandusky, was found dead on Saturday, her naked body jammed between a mattress and a bed frame inside the house she started to rent about a week prior.
Her two children, Celina, 3, and Wayne, Jr., 18 months, were found dead inside a closet.
Jackson’s husband, Wayne Jackson, is living in North Carolina, according to friends and family. The couple filed for divorce in March.
Clinton and Jackson were friends, Sandusky police Lt. John Orzech. “... He just said he was an acquaintance and visited her from time to time.”
Clinton reportedly tried to commit suicide in a Clyde hotel early Sunday morning and was taken to the Bellevue Hospital. A 19-year-old woman who was with Clinton in the room found him unconscious but breathing and called authorities at 4 a.m.
Police picked up Clinton at the hospital Monday afternoon after learning he was there.
A week ago, a 17-year-old girl told Sandusky police she was forcibly raped by Clinton in his apartment. That is the same residence he used when registering as a sex offender upon his release from prison and return to Sandusky, where he grew up and where relatives still reside.
©2013 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)
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