Jackson perjury trial underway
By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly
Monday, July 8, 2019
HERTFORD — Jurors in Quentin Jackson's perjury trial heard a tape recording Monday of the Hertford town councilor’s testimony in a February 2018 court proceeding that he wasn't on probation.
Prosecutors say that claim makes Jackson guilty of felony perjury because he was in fact on probation at the time and was testifying under oath.
Testimony in Jackson's perjury trial got underway in Perquimans Superior Court on Monday. The outcome of the case has big stakes for Jackson: Perjury, or lying under oath, is a felony and if convicted Jackson could be sentenced to at least five months in jail. He also could lose his ability to vote, which means he also would have to resign from his seat on the Hertford Town Council.
Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons, chief resident Superior Court Judge for the 2nd Judicial District, is hearing the case in the Perquimans County Courthouse Annex. Sermons said he was asked to preside over this week's court session in Perquimans by N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.
The perjury charge against Jackson stems from a case in Perquimans District Court in February 2018 in which Jackson was on trial for two misdemeanor offenses: resisting a police officer and displaying a fictitious license plate. Jackson had been charged with the offenses after being pulled over by a Hertford police officer on Feb. 1, 2018.
A District Court judge ended up finding Jackson guilty of the resisting a police officer charge and dismissing the fictitious license plate charge. Judge Edgar Barnes sentenced Jackson to 10 days in jail, but the sentence was put on hold after Jackson appealed it. The case has not yet been heard in Superior Court.
It was during the actual February 2018 trial, however, that prosecutors say Jackson perjured himself. Jackson acknowledged in his testimony that he had a handgun in his car when he was pulled over by the Hertford police officer. But he claimed in response to a direct question from a prosecutor that he wasn't on probation at the time.
In filing the perjury charge against Jackson, prosecutors have pointed out he was on probation at the time of his testimony for a conviction in Dare County.
They've also noted he had a motive for not telling the truth. According to prosecutors, having a handgun in his car would have violated the terms of his probation in the Dare County case.
Jurors in the perjury case heard testimony from two prosecution witnesses on Monday. One was Perquimans County Clerk of Superior Court Todd Tilley; the other was Jack Beasley, the assistant district attorney who was trying Jackson's case last year.
Tilley testified that he burned a copy of the audio recording from Jackson's February 2018 District Court trial. After sealing it in an envelope, Tilley testified he then placed it in a box in the county safe. He testified he has the only key to the box. Tilley unsealed the envelope in court Monday afternoon.
Judge Sermons then allowed Assistant District Attorney Holley Metzger to play some of the audiotape from Jackson's District Court trial. On the tape, Jackson is heard being sworn in and saying he would tell the truth in his testimony. He's later heard testifying that he was not on probation.
Sermons told Metzger he would not allow some aspects of the District Court trial to be discussed in Jackson's current trial, ruling they had no bearing on the perjury charges against Jackson.
“I am not going to play the whole tape of the whole trial,” he said. “I don’t know what in the hell happened in that case, and I don’t care.”
Jackson is being represented by Michael Sanders, an attorney from Elizabeth City. Sanders took over Jackson's defense on Monday after his court-appointed attorney, Preston Tyndall, stepped aside.
Tyndall may still represent Jackson, however, on two unrelated criminal matters: the charges he's still facing for assault on a government official and first degree trespass. The assault charge stems from an October incident in which Jackson admits hitting fellow Hertford Councilman Sid Eley in the head with a closed fist after a town board meeting. Jackson was found guilty of the charge in District Court in January but has appealed the ruling to Superior Court.
The trespass charge is related to a dispute Jackson has with a cousin over property in Hertford.
While both cases were on the Superior Court calendar this week, neither were heard Monday.
Testimony in Jackson's trial resumes Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.