SEBRING — Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in Highlands County Circuit Court for a mother accused of allowing to her son to die of malnourishment and her three daughters to be malnourished while they grew up in an apartment filled with trash and thousands of cockroaches.
Sandra Jackson, 27, was arrested in 2012 and charged last year with aggravated manslaughter, one count of child neglect with great harm and three counts of child neglect without great harm.
Kyle Lee Marsh Rupert, Jackson’s boyfriend, was arrested in 2012 and was later charged with the same charges that Jackson received after an autopsy showed that Milo Rupert, the 10-month old child, died from malnutrition, while his three sisters were malnourished.
Rupert plead guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 24 1/2 years in prison.
In the case of Sandra Jackson, it’s expected that testimony will begin on Wednesday, June 18. The trial before Circuit Judge William Sites is expected to last up to three days.
During a pretrial conference last week, Sites rejected allowing prosecutors to use testimony as to whether Jackson may have on one occasion or more often had sex with another man after leaving work, instead of returning home to care for her children.
Assistant State Attorney Richard Castillo said that depending on testimony on the defense side, the testimony might be relevant.
“If she’s not taking care of the children because she’s sexing other men that has probative value,” he said.
But, Robert Gray, Jackson’s attorney, said that allowing such evidence would be prejudicial to Jackson.
Sites agreed and said that depending on the testimony, evidence that Jackson did not go immediately home after work might be relevant.
In another motion, Gray asked for Sites to delay the trial without requiring Jackson to give up her right to a speedy trial or rule the prosecution can’t use certain witnesses or information. Gray said the defense was “sandbagged” by receiving information from the prosecution close to the trial.
But Castillo said that most of that information had been provided earlier. He also indicated he won’t use one witness, whose name came up toward the end.
Sites rejected Gray’s motion on grounds that Gray asked for speedy trial, indicating he was ready.
The events leading to the case began in 2012 after medical personnel arrived at the residence of Jackson and Rupert and found Milo dead. The only clean area of the residence, reports said, was where Rupert and his friends played video games.
Reports indicated that Milo and his three sisters received less care during the six months preceding Milo’s death than during other periods.
After Milo died, the reports said, both parents didn’t seem to have significant reactions to the death.