By JOHN K. WILEY
SPOKANE – William Brad Jackson, accused of smothering his 9-year-old daughter because she stood between him and the woman he hoped to marry, was convicted of first-degree murder by a Spokane County jury today.
Superior Court Judge James Murphy read the verdict to a hushed courtroom. Jackson showed no emotion and was quickly led away in handcuffs.
Jackson faces 20 to 28 years in prison at a sentencing hearing yet to be scheduled.
The jury of nine women and three men deliberated just over six hours Wednesday, then announced they had a verdict about 30 minutes after resuming deliberations today morning. They spent the night sequestered in a Spokane hotel.
The jury also had the option of convicting Jackson of lesser charges, such as second-degree murder or manslaughter.
Jackson, 34, was arrested after detectives bugged his car with a global positioning system device and then mapped his routes to two sites where the girl’s remains were buried last October.
During the 2 1/2-week trial, Jackson admitted he buried his daughter, but denied killing her. He contended he panicked after finding her lifeless body.
Prosecutors alleged Jackson smothered his daughter with a pillow because she didn’t get along with a woman he wanted to marry.
“How did he treat Valiree in death?” Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll asked in closing arguments Wednesday. “Did he care about her? No. She was crammed face-down in the dirt.
“All he cared about was getting away with murder.”
He also accused Jackson of perpetrating a fraud when he initially reported his daughter missing and made pleas that launched a massive search by volunteers and law enforcement officers.
Driscoll said exposing Jackson’s string of lies was a key to the case.
“His credibility was a factor for us,” Driscoll said.
Defense lawyer Jim Kane, in his closing, noted that Jackson loved his daughter and gave up his bachelor lifestyle to raise Valiree. The defense contended Valiree died from an apparent overdose of the prescription anti-depressant drug Paxil.
Kane also argued that the pillow allegedly used to smother the girl did not appear to show an expected pattern of blood splatters.
Jackson testified this week that he buried his daughter southeast of Spokane after finding her dead last Oct. 18. He said he became irrational when he saw her body, although prosecutors noted he had enough presence of mind to concoct an alibi.
Jackson reported his daughter missing the same day she died, prompting a monthlong search.
During the trial, Jackson said he did not report the death initially because he feared he would be blamed. He said he did not like the way he was scrutinized by law enforcement when Valiree’s mother, Roseann Pleasant, disappeared in 1992. Pleasant has never been located.
Pleasant’s relatives believe Jackson also killed Pleasant, although he has never been charged in the case.
“We’re really happy that justice has been served,” said Katherine Stone, Valiree’s aunt. “Brad Jackson murdered Roseann in 1992 and they didn’t investigate enough to find out he did.
“We know in our hearts and our minds that Valiree is with her mom.”
John Stone, Valiree’s uncle, who wrote a book on the case, said he, too, believes Jackson killed his sister, Rosann.
“The victory is twofold here,” Stone said.
Stone said he is working with state legislators from Spokane to draft a bill that would require a sentence of death or life in prison for anyone who murders a child.
Jackson later dug up Valiree’s remains and reburied them in rural Stevens County, about 50 miles from the first burial site.
After Valiree was reported missing and no evidence surfaced pointing to an abduction, sheriff’s officers got a warrant and followed Jackson’s movements for the next 18 days using GPS devices attached to his vehicle. That led authorities to the grave sites, and Jackson was later arrested.
During the trial’s first week, prosecutors produced witnesses to support their theory that Jackson killed his daughter because she didn’t get along with a woman he wanted to marry.
Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.