A woman acquitted of manslaughter in the shooting death of a 19-year-old had been beaten multiple times previously by the victim and a group of females, according to court documents.
Montash Jackson, 22, was indicted in October of 2018 with second-degree manslaughter and four counts of wanton endangerment in the slaying of Jasmir Allen, according to court records. Three of the wanton endangerment counts had been previously dismissed.
The fatal shooting happened on July 29, 2018, at the Liberty Heights apartment complex on Liberty Road. At the time, police said Allen had not been the intended target.
But Allen had been among a group of women who had approached Jackson at her apartment building on the day of the shooting, Jackson’s attorney said in a court document.
Jackson had fired shots at the group because she’d feared for her life, her attorney, Daniel Whitley, wrote in a court motion.
Before the shooting, some women, including Allen, had “repeatedly bullied, harassed, brutalized and physically tormented” Jackson, Whitley wrote in a court document.
On the night of Jan. 14, 2017, a group of women attacked Jackson and her sister outside of a Lexington night club, Whitley wrote in court records. Among the women was Latasha Cameron, who was with the group that approached Jackson on the day of the fatal shooting, Whitley wrote.
Jackson was dating Cameron’s ex-boyfriend, Jackson’s mother wrote in a letter to Judge Ernesto Scorsone.
On March 22, 2018, Jackson’s vehicle was chased and repeatedly rammed by another woman’s vehicle, according to court records. Jackson’s attorney said the assailant was Cameron.
After being released from jail in the car ramming and a subsequent fight, Cameron and a group of her friends, including Allen, approached Jackson’s car in a Family Dollar parking lot, court records say. The women pulled Jackson out of the car and began beating her, according to arrest warrants filed in that case.
The group was recorded on video beating, slapping, punching and stomping Jackson outside the Family Dollar, Whitley wrote in a court document. Cameron was charged with fourth-degree assault in the attack, which left Jackson with large patches of hair ripped out, according to court records.
Warrants were also issued for Allen and other women accused in the alleged March 22 attack, Whitley said in a court document.
Cameron told investigators that she, Allen and others had approached Jackson on the day of the fatal 2018 shooting “to make peace,” according to court records.
Being near Jackson violated conditions of Cameron’s jail release in the assault case, Jackson’s attorney argued.
When the women approached Jackson on her porch that night, she thought the group was angry because they’d been served with warrants in the assault against her, Whitley said.
“Ms. Jackson explicitly warned Ms. Allen and Ms. Cameron that she was prepared to defend herself, but Ms. Allen and Ms. Cameron continued to rapidly advance on her, showing no signs of stopping,” Whitley wrote.
Whitley argued that Jackson was justified in her response.
“Unfortunately, she had to take a friend’s life, and she regrets it every day,” Whitley said Wednesday. “But she had to protect herself.”
The violence was avoidable, Whitley said Wednesday. Before the fatal shooting, Jackson had tried to get protection orders against some of the women and had been denied. Had Cameron’s bond been revoked in the prior cases, Cameron would have been kept in jail and the events leading up to the fatal shooting would not have happened, Whitley said.
In August, Scorsone denied Whitley’s motion to dismiss charges against Jackson, leaving the case to the jury to decide. Scorsone pointed out that two unarmed women approached Jackson on the day of the shooting, and that Jackson had shot Allen in the neck at close range.
Jackson also allegedly fired shots at a woman who ran from the scene, Scorsone wrote in the order.
As Jackson’s case was being prepared for trial, Cameron’s attorney advised prosecutors that she would not testify, Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn said Wednesday. Since Cameron was a witness of the fatal shooting, the Fayette County Attorney’s Office agreed not to move forward with the charges against Cameron so prosecutor could subpoena or compel her to testify, Red Corn said.
Whitley believes that the jury in Jackson’s trial may have been put off by the deal that was made.
“I think the jury understood that the system failed Ms. Jackson completely,” Whitley said. “And I think it disturbed them that the commonwealth was using its powers to have charges dismissed against the girl who had assaulted her for years.”
The jury had the option of finding Jackson guilty of reduced charges, including reckless homicide, but jurors ultimately decided to acquit Jackson of all charges.
Jackson has now been released after spending nearly 18 months in jail, Whitley said Wednesday.
“She’s very thankful that the jury administered good justice, that the jury system worked,” Whitley said.