UPDATE: Current El Centro Mayor Alex Cardenas gave a statement on the city’s position on Jason Jackson’s case.Â “Regarding Council member Jason Jackson’s situation, the City has no comment at this time as it is a personal matter.”
EL CENTRO â€” Jason Jackson, El Centro councilman and former mayor, was sentenced by presiding Judge William D. Lehman during the sentencing phase of his trial to ten days in jail Thursday, August 17, at the Imperial County Superior Court in El Centro. Jackson pled guilty July 13 to the felony charge of cruelty to an animal. Today, Judge Lehman reduced the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.
As part of Jacksonâ€™s three-year formal probation, some of the provisions include not owning an animal, summiting to searches at anytime, counseling for the act of animal cruelty, surrendering the abused horse, not leaving the state of California, fines and court costs to be $1,000 maximum, and serving 10 days in the county jail.
When Jackson was asked if he accepted these terms, he said he did not.
Judge Lehman said if Jackson did not accept the terms, he could possibly face longer jail time. Jacksonâ€™s defense attorney, Tom Storey, then asked if he could confer with Jackson and Judge Lehman called a short recess.
When the court reconvened, Judge Lehman once again asked Jackson if he accepted the terms of the probation.
Jackson spoke on own his behalf.
â€œI thought that when I pled guilty to the felony, I agreed only if it was reduced to a misdemeanor and I would get no jail time,â€ said Jackson. â€œJail time will hurt my business.â€
Judge Lehman then stated that he would not retry the case and once again asked Jackson if he was going to accept the probation terms set forth, or receive 90 days in jail.
Jackson then commented that he believed he had no choice, to which the judge replied that Jackson did have a choice, 10 days in jail or 90 days in jail.
Jackson ultimately accepted the terms and will surrender himself to the Imperial County Jail August 31.
Judge Lehman commented that it was a serious case and that inconsistencies in Jacksonâ€™s testimonies had led him to the sentencing. Lehman stated the horse was clearly not being fed or watered for a long period of time, because it was eating a palm tree, the fence, and its own feces and the water was very low with mud and algae in it.
Jackson had claimed he sold the horse. However, Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Trapnell told the court the horse was apparently still in the same location. The judge said the probation officer will look into the status of the horse.
Trapnell commented on the sentencing, “We asked for the felony conviction, but I understand why the judge went forward with the misdemeanor.”
“I think the judge saw the seriousness of the crime and that is why he imposed the sentence that he did, including the formal probation,” Trapnell said. “The judge imposing the 10-day jail time should make an impression on Mr. Jackson that this conduct is unacceptable. In our country, nobody is above the law.”