It took one hour Thursday for an Allen County jury to convict Thomas Jackson.
Jackson, 41, was convicted of murder and using a firearm in the commission of an offense in the Aug. 9 death of Angel May Carter, 19, at Rodeway Inn on Goshen Road. A murder charge in Indiana carries between 45 and 65 years in prison with up to an additional 20 years for the firearm enhancement charge.
Surveillance video from the Rodeway Inn showed Jackson around 4 a.m. on Aug. 9 knocking on the door to his room and then backing away, pointing a gun while he waited for someone to answer.
When Carter didn't open up, he returned to the front desk to get a key and used it to enter the room he and Carter shared, video showed.
Shortly thereafter, Carter followed him out of the door and fell to the ground, the video showed.
What really angered the family was Jackson's apparent flippant attitude.
“They show her walking out and falling and him just walking away,” said Samantha Carter, her stepmother and wife to Carter's father, Michael. “He didn't even know she was behind him.”
He returned quickly to gather some belongings, Samantha Carter said, and then walked by her, “flipping her hair over” to see if she was dead.
The video and autopsy photos were part of a three-day Allen Superior Court trial the victim's family endured this week, followed by nearly a year of whys.
Samantha Carter and her husband praised the prosecution that presented a case “that (there) was no way you could second-guess what happened,” she said. But the couple is afraid Jackson will come back to appeal the case.
Police arrested Jackson on Aug. 27 from a tip that he was hiding out in a house on North Wells Street. U.S. marshals, aiding the Fort Wayne homicide unit, picked him up as he was in a car traveling south on Wells in the heart of the commercial district.
Samantha Carter said her questions to Jackson are: “If you claim you're innocent, why did you run? If you loved her, then why did you do it? It all comes back to the main question of why?”
Jackson and Angel May Carter had been dating for about nine months, but that night, texts revealed an ongoing heated argument where Angel May constantly told Jackson “to go sleep it off,” Samantha Carter said.
Jackson, originally from Mississippi, lived in Chicago before moving to Fort Wayne about a year before the shooting death.
The Carters believe Angel May was trying to break up with Jackson. “It was one of those things where I often asked her why and she goes, 'because I think I can make him love people and love me.' She thought of him as a lost puppy she could fix and there was no fixing him,” Samantha Carter said.
Nevertheless, the family included Jackson on trips and family cookouts at their home, she said.
“At the same time, something never felt quite right, like there was something he wasn't allowing anyone to know,” she said.
At the time of the slaying, Detective Sgt. Tim Hughes, head of Fort Wayne homicide, called the death “brutal and cold-blooded” and noted that Jackson left the room with Angel May's dog, Oreo.
Angel May was laid to rest at Covington Memorial Gardens while family raised money for a headstone. A memorial tree for her was planted at Bob Arnold Northside Park because that was where she played Wildcat baseball.
“A lot of times, we'd hang out there. As she got older, she'd go up there and go swimming,” Samantha Carter said.
Jackson's sentencing is scheduled for 3 p.m. July 30.