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Court upholds death sentence for murder, rape of woman

<i>WLOS</i><br/>FILE - Richard Allen Jackson
FILE - Richard Allen Jackson

By Kristy Kepley-Steward

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    North Carolina (WLOS) — A Federal Appeals Court has upheld the death sentence for a Buncombe County man convicted of raping and killing a woman in the Pisgah National Forest in 1994.

Richard Allen Jackson was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering Karen Styles, of Candler, by a federal jury in 2001.

On October 31, 1994, Styles had gone for a run in the Bent Creek area of the Pisgah National Forest. Jackson was convicted and sentenced to death for committing violence with a gun on federal land.

On appeal, Jackson contended that the Government failed to prove he committed a “crime of violence.”

The Crime In 1994, Jackson confessed that he kidnapped 22-year-old Karen Styles as she went for a run in the Pisgah National Forest.

Jackson told authorities he duct-taped Styles to a tree and raped her. He then shocked her with a stun gun multiple times.

When Styles began to scream after the duct tape Jackson had placed on her mouth became loose, Jackson shot her once in the head, killing her.

Her body was found nearly a month later after an extensive search, still duct-taped to the tree.

The Punishment In 1995, a North Carolina state jury convicted Jackson of first-degree murder, first-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping.

The court, consistent with the jury’s recommendation, imposed the death penalty.

In 1998, the Supreme Court of North Carolina vacated Jackson’s convictions and sentence after determining that the police violated his Miranda rights when interrogating him.

In March 2000, just before a second trial was set to begin, Jackson pled guilty to second-degree murder and related offenses.

A state court sentenced him to 25-35 years’ imprisonment.

Jackson appealed the decision, citing new Supreme Court decisions on crimes of violence.

On April 20, 2022, a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled unanimously against an appeal by Jackson. The court concluded Jackson should face the death penalty for the murder.

“He contends that the Government failed to prove that he committed a “crime of violence.” He is wrong,” said aid Judge Diana Gribbon Motz in the 4th Circuit. “The jury unanimously found Jackson guilty of federal premeditated first-degree murder, which constitutes a qualifying “crime of violence.” Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s denial of Jackson’s successive 2255 motion.”

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