A Lexington man charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend last year pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree manslaughter in Fayette Circuit Court.
Jeffrey Eugene Jackson Jr., 35, had been indicted for murder in the shooting death of Quantina Reed, 34, whose body was found March 27, 2013, in the garage of her house on Scottsdale Circle. Jackson was scheduled to go to trial next week.
He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge Tuesday under an offer from the Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney's office.
Following prosecutors' recommendations, Circuit Judge James Ishmael sentenced Jackson to 20 years in prison. Jackson will have to serve at least 10 years before being eligible for parole, the judge said.
Under questioning by Ishmael, Jackson said that he and Reed got into an argument. He maintained that she "introduced" a handgun into the dispute. Jackson said he "wrestled" the gun away from her and a shot was fired.
Jackson denied pulling the trigger deliberately. However, in response to a question from the judge, he said he fired the weapon "wantonly."
Jackson was arrested in Dayton, Ohio, about six hours after the shooting. He had driven there in Reed's car, authorities said at the time.
The shooting occurred less than 24 hours after Jackson had asked Reed's father for permission to marry her.
On Tuesday, Jackson told Ishmael that he tossed the gun out of the car after the shooting, but he later told police where to find it.
"I panicked; I didn't know what to do," Jackson said. "I was trying to get out of harm's way."
Extensive questioning concerned ownership of the gun.
Jackson told Ishmael that he bought Reed the gun for protection from a former boyfriend. Jackson said he did so even though he knew it was illegal for him to own a firearm because he had a felony conviction.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Cindy Rieker objected to the testimony, arguing that the gun belonged to Jackson.
In response, Jackson acknowledged several times that the gun was his, admitting that he took the gun to Reed's parents' home at least once.
Ishmael found Jackson guilty of one count of second-degree manslaughter, one count of felony possession of a handgun, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of being a persistent felony offender.
He sentenced Jackson to 10 years for manslaughter, increased to 20 years as a result of his guilty plea to being a persistent offender. Jackson also received 10 years on the handgun charge, and five years for tampering. The sentences will total 20 years.
"It saddens me to think that young people are shooting other young people and the consequences are devastating," Ishmael said of the case. "There are no winners. It makes me sad."
Jim Warren (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @hlpublicsafety.