A New Holland man caused the death of a Terre Hill man whose truck he was stealing last month, according to prosecutors, who charged him with homicide Tuesday.
Javen T. Jackson, 21, is also charged with setting a fire the day before — Nov. 10 — at the New Holland apartment and business complex he was staying at, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The fire displaced 11 people and caused an estimated $1.75 million damage.
Jackson waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday before District Judge Jonathan Heisse. Waiving the hearing means Jackson concedes prosecutors have enough evidence to show that a crime was likely committed and it will be up to a jury or judge to decide his responsibility.
Cory Miller, Jackson’s attorney, said Jackson waived the hearing so they could get the case moving and see evidence.
While Miller said he doesn't have enough details yet to figure how proceed, "My client maintains that he was under the influence of controlled substances when these events took place."
In the affidavit of probable cause outlining the crimes, a relative of Jackson told police she believed Jackson had been using methamphetamine when he set the fire.
Brett Hambright, a spokesman for the District Attorney's office, declined to comment on Jackson's state of mind other than to acknowledge they had information about potential drug use. Even so, he said, "Voluntary intoxication is not a defense."
According to the affidavit, shortly before noon Nov. 11, Jackson stole a Ford Ranger belonging to Thomas Blackwell from 115 Center Ave., Terre Hill. He told Blackwell he needed the truck to get away, but Blackwell told him he couldn't take it.
Blackwell, 59, held onto the driver's side of truck as Jackson drove off, but fell, the affidavit said. He died three days later of multiple traumatic injuries at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, an autopsy found.
Hambright said the homicide circumstances were unique and acknowledged that while Jackson may not have intended to, he "absolutely led to and caused Mr. Blackwell's death."
Two other people were there and one of them was able to stop the truck by opening the passenger door and putting the truck in park.
Jackson sat on the ground for a while and when an ambulance arrived, he walked to Terre Hill Park, where he got a ride to the Elverson Walmart. There, he stole pants and a shirt, changed into them and left, apparently to change is appearance, Hambright said.
Jackson and Blackwell knew each other and had a cordial relationship, Hambright said.
Around 12:30 a.m. the day before, Jackson was at 427 W. Main Street, where he'd been staying in the utility room, and asked his aunt, who was living in an apartment there, for a lighter, the affidavit said.
She gave him one, not knowing he planned to set fire, Hambright said. By 3:30 a.m., the building was engulfed in flames.
On Nov. 14, in an interview with Pennsylvania State Trooper Kory Wardrop, Jackson said he set the fire because he wanted to smoke out bugs there, the affidavit said.
Jackson is being held without bail at Lancaster County Prison. He is charged with second-degree murder, also known as felony murder, which is causing a death while committing a felony — in this case, the truck theft, Hambright said. A convictions means life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
Jackson is also charged with arson, vehicle theft — both felonies — reckless endangerment and retail theft.