Crime

Woman accused of lying about gruesome Tacoma murder argues plea deal should stand

A woman accused of orchestrating a gruesome Tacoma murder argues she held up her end of a deal with prosecutors.

But prosecutors say Crystal Jackson lied repeatedly about the death of 18-year-old Jesus Isidor-Mendoza, and shouldn’t get to reap the benefits of her plea deal.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh is hearing testimony this week to decide who’s right. The outcome could mean the difference between just a few years in prison for Jackson or up to 20.

Isidor-Mendoza was raped, drowned in a bucket, and his body was cut in half in October 2014.

His remains were later found in a Tacoma ravine, and prosecutors charged Jackson, 32, and two others with the homicide.

Jackson and two men were charged in the case.

One of her co-defendants reportedly told fellow inmate in the Pierce County Jail that Jackson fronted the victim methamphetamine, and he failed to pay up.

The state offered Jackson a deal to testify against the other two charged, and she took it.

But prosecutors say she lied about details, including whether she knew the victim and where he was killed. That testimony led to a mistrial for her codefendants.

Now Jackson has asked Rumbaugh to enforce the plea agreement, which would result in her being convicted of second-degree manslaughter instead of a murder charge. Or alternatively, she asks him to let her withdraw her plea, and go to trial.

If he doesn’t go for those options, she’ll be sentenced to first-degree murder, and faces significantly more prison time than the two years, four months expected under the plea bargain.

“Had the defendant refrained from breaching the plea, the net result would have been 219 less months of prison time, at a minimum, than the defendant would have served on the original charge,” deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer wrote in a memorandum to the court.

Defense attorney Walter Peale argues Jackson gave a solid account of the main points of the case.

“Ms. Jackson maintained a consistent description of the major, material and relevant events leading to the death and disposal of the victim during pretrial statements,” Peale wrote in his motion to uphold the plea. “Despite discrepancies in various details, the course of events was consistent.”

Peale called Ausserer as a witness Tuesday and questioned him in-depth about what Jackson said when, and about what was expected of her.

Ausserer said his instructions to her were essentially: “Tell me the truth, tell me the whole truth. I don’t care about anything else.”

And she didn’t, he said.

The other men charged in Isidor-Mendoza’s death are 51-year-old Darrell Daves and 50-year-old Wallace Jackson, who is not releated to Crystal Jackson.

Wallace Jackson pleaded guilty following the mistrial and was sentenced to 43 months. Daves is scheduled to go to trial again later this year.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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