A 27-year-old accused of shooting four people on the Strip was released from house arrest and is free on bail, following a judge’s ruling Monday.
Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez released Robert Jackson from the confines of house arrest, which included a monitoring bracelet and a 6 p.m. curfew, after defense lawyers argued he’s not a flight risk and has not missed a court appearance since bailing out of jail.
The ruling frustrated prosecutors and stunned one victim of the Aug. 19, 2007 gang shooting in front of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.
“I just can’t wrap my brain around how these decisions are being made. This is somebody who spent four years running, and they let him go,” said Brittany O’Dale, who was struck in the leg, suffers continued pain as a result of her injury and has had to pay thousands in ongoing medical bills.
Prosecutor Danielle Pieper reminded Gonzalez that after the shooting Jackson eluded authorities for years as he moved from state to state and changed his name. By the time Jackson was captured in Chicago, he had been featured five times on “America’s Most Wanted” and named to the U.S. marshals’ 15 most wanted fugitives list.
Jackson’s defense lawyers said in court documents he was unaware there was a warrant for his arrest and he was moving around “trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.”
Gonzalez handed down her ruling without comment.
Jackson, who faces nearly a dozen counts of attempted murder and battery, appeared in court Monday with family members. Judges have thrice lowered his bail as the case has lingered in the courts since his arrest in 2011. He’s currently free on $250,000 bail. The trial has been delayed three times and is now set for June 2014.
Pieper said afterwards that Gonzalez’ ruling was a set back.
“I’m disappointed that someone who’s been on the run for four years is allowed to get a modification of house arrest taken off,” the chief deputy district attorney said.
Pieper said she won’t give up on the case and intends to move forward with the prosecution.
Prosecutors say the evidence against Jackson is overwhelming, even though none of the victims saw the shooter.
The early morning shooting happened after several Squad Up gang members, including Jackson, brawled with rival Wood gang members, Las Vegas police said.
Jackson fired five shots from his handgun, injuring four bystanders, police said. Three were tourists. None of the 20 gang members in the fight were hurt.
Eric Pratt, who was with Jackson on the night of the shooting, testified to the grand jury that he witnessed Markus Burton give a gun to Jackson, who was wearing a green, collared shirt. Pratt then saw Jackson fire into the crowd.
Pratt told the grand jury he recognized the gun because he had sold it to Burton.
Investigators were able to track Jackson on video surveillance because of his green shirt, which he dumped in a trash can, where it was recovered.
Jackson’s DNA was found on the shirt, authorities said.
Jackson’s lawyers maintain he’s had no issues since his release from jail and he’s become a contributing member to the community. He runs a film and photography business, assists his mother in her business and cares for his elderly grandparents, his lawyers said. He’s also expecting the birth of his second child any day.
Meanwhile, O’Dale remained anxious over the case. “It feels like something really weird is going on with these judges,” she said. “He’s a flight risk. He always has been. I don’t know what they’re (the judges) thinking.”