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'We're hopeful': Earnest Jackson faces Nebraska Board of Pardons on Monday

Jackson has spent over two decades in prison for a crime many say he didn't commit
Posted at 8:55 AM, Sep 19, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An Omaha man who has been in prison for more than half of his life for a crime he, and many others, say he did not commit now has the chance to get his sentence commuted by the board of pardons.

Ahead of Monday's hearing, 3 News Now anchor Alyssa Curtis spoke with those fighting to get Earnest Jackson out of prison.

"It's actually really frustrating to know people know he is an innocent man, he had nothing to do with it," said Tracy Jackson, Earnest's wife.

Back in 1999, Larry Perry was shot and killed. Then-17-year-old Earnest Jackson was convicted and sentenced for first-degree murder, some say wrongfully. Now, after 20 years in prison, Jackson is up for a pardon hearing.

"He's hopeful and I think that's the best word for it. We're hopeful that as much support as we have and looking forward to possibly even getting a legislation bill to change the wording of what newly discovered evidence is," said Tracy.

After Jackson's conviction, a man, Shalamar Cooperrider, confessed to the murder, adding Jackson was not there at the time of the killing. Cooperrider was acquitted on self-defense.

Perry's family submitted a letter to the pardons board, saying Jackson is innocent and should be released.

"We felt so great to know that his family actually does realize he didn't play a part in this, he's still sad because a tragedy did happen overall," said Tracy.

His commutation petition has over 60,000 signatures.

"The person was acquitted, he should not be there. One, you shouldn't be in prison for someone else's crime, but bigger than that you shouldn't be in prison for finding out someone's crime was not a crime and they went home," said advocate Jason Witmer.

Advocacy that doesn't go unnoticed.

"It's humbling to know, just to know so many people have his back, he's going to come out here with so much support and I hope the pardons board looks at that," said Tracy.

Ahead of Monday's pardon hearing, many are hoping the pardons board — made up of Governor Ricketts, Secretary of State Robert Evnen and Attorney General Doug Petersen — look at Jackson's good behavior.

"He went in as a boy, he was 17 years old, and now he's about to be 41 years old next month, so he grew in prison and a lot of people who'd be in his situation wouldn't be as successful as he's been," said Tracy.

"The more humane we make the system, if we have to have it, the better results we have. You have people coming out, you have people wanting to not only be better people but invest into the community," said Witmer.

Hoping for nothing more than a second chance.

"Can't imagine what he'd do out here if given that chance so that's all we're asking for, for the pardons board to have mercy and believe in second chances," said Tracy.

The pardons board meets Monday at 1 p.m. at the state capitol.

**Correction: Larry Perry was previously referred to as Lance Perry

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