Murder accomplice recounts cyclists death

Donald Jackson, an admitted accomplice in the September 12, 2007 killing of Kingfield resident and father of four Mark Loesch, recounted the details of that night March 23 in Hennepin County District Court.

Jackson pleaded guilty in May 2008 to aiding and abetting aggravated robbery for his role in the crime in exchange for a lighter sentence. Part of his agreement required him to testify against Jamaal Freeman, the man currently on trial for killing Loesch, 41, who left for a late night bike ride Sept. 12 and was found dead from blows to the head the next morning about two miles away from his home.

Jackson, now 25, said during questioning by Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Therese Galatowitsch that he was selling marijuana at the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue Sept. 12. Around 8:30 p.m., he said Freeman, a friend, came to the corner to go to convenience store Cup Foods and the two made plans to go out later that night.

Hours later, Freeman said he was approached by a man on a bike, presumably Loesch, who was looking to buy $40 worth of crack. Jackson said he didn’t have that drug and turned him away.

When Freeman came back to the area to meet up with his friend, he told Jackson he needed money. Jackson told him “there’s a white guy riding around on a bike with $40 trying to get some crack.”

Loesch had since returned to the area, Jackson said, and Freeman wanted to rob him. He asked for Jackson’s help, but Jackson said he declined because he had just gotten out of jail for robbery and didn’t want to go back. But after several requests, Jackson said he agreed to be a lookout.

“I said I’ll watch out for you, but I ain’t doing nothing,” said Jackson, who also noted during his testimony that he made about $150 selling drugs that night.   

Freeman then led Loesch away from the intersection to a home on the 3700 block of Elliot Avenue and Jackson took a different route to the home while keeping his friend and the cyclist in his sight. Once there, Freeman and Loesch went through the back yard and into the front yard, where Jackson said he watched Freeman hit Loesch several times with a bat and take his money.

Jackson said he was hiding behind some bushes during the beating and was shocked to see it happen. He said he didn’t know where the bat came from.  

He said he and Freeman fled the scene on foot and met up briefly at a nearby apartment where Freeman changed clothes and bought $10 worth of marijuana from Jackson. Then they both left to a downtown strip club.
During cross examination of Jackson, defense attorney Emmett Donnelly brought into question Jackson’s credibility, referencing his criminal history and several times he lied to police. Jackson admitted to lying to police about his name and other information on different occasions. He was previously convicted of robbery and aggravated assault, though Galatowitsch noted that those crimes involved multiple assailants and weapons that Jackson did not handle.

Donnelly also asked Jackson about his encounter with a high-ranking member of the Bloods gang in prison after his arrest for the Loesch killing. The lawyer asked if he had spoken with the gang member, confessed the crime and plans to pin it on someone else. Freeman, who did not have connections to the gang as Jackson did, would have been a good target, Donnelly said.

Jackson said he didn’t talk to the gang member about his case, other than saying “it was messed up.”

Donnelly later displayed a bat that was found in Jackson’s uncle’s car. The bat had Jackson’s DNA on it, but contained no trace of blood or other DNA. Jackson said the bat was always kept in the car and he occasionally used it to play with his cousins. Donnelly asked if the small aluminum bat could have made a good weapon. Jackson said yes, though he earlier told Galatowitsch that it was not used in the crime.

Jackson described the bat he saw as a red aluminum bat. A murder weapon was never found at the scene, nor was any other physical or forensic evidence.   

Both Freeman and Jackson were familiar with the location of the murder. It was the home of then 12-year-old Kevin Dickerson, known in the neighborhood as Little Kevin. Dickerson, who found Loesch’s body in his front yard Sept. 13, also testified March 23 and said he kept a red wooden bat in the backyard. That bat disappeared after Sept. 12, 2007, he said.

Dickerson said he, his older brother and Freeman went to Cup Foods together Sept. 12 to get food. The three walked around for a bit and then Freeman parted ways, Dickerson said. The boy, now 15, said he went home around 9:30 p.m. and was there for the rest of the night. No one in his home, including his mother and stepfather, who testified during the first day of trial, said they heard anything unusual that night.

The trial, before Judge George McGunnigle, is expected to continue throughout the week.