Men’s basketball guard Zay Jackson was indicted on a charge of second-degree assault by a Calloway County grand jury Thursday.
Jackson’s charges stem from an incident where he was accused of striking Jason Clement of Paducah, Ky., with his car in mid-September. He also received a charge of first-degree wanton endangerment for putting Jason’s wife Alia Clement of Paducah in substantial danger.
Second-degree assault is a Class C felony, with the possible consequence of five to 10 years in jail. Jackson could also receive one to five years in jail for the charge of wanton endangerment.
Originally, Jackson was charged with two counts of second-degree assault, which were both lessened to first-degree wanton endangerment after the original hearing. Judge Dennis Foust, the original judge on the case, withdrew himself from the trial after Jackson made direct personal contact with him Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship said. He added that communication between the judge and defendant is not common and he believes this to be the reason Foust recused himself.
After withdrawing his guilty plea late last month and rejecting Judge Craig Clymer’s offer of one year in jail, Jackson exercised his right to a grand jury in Thursday’s indictment. Clymer told Jackson in the last status hearing that all offers would be off the table if he were to be indicted with a felony.
“When Judge Clymer got in the case and looked at it, he decided to not agree with the deal but to stay with the lower charges,” Blankenship said. “I really don’t think this turned out to be a good move for Mr. Jackson.”
Blankenship said Clymer more than likely would have granted Jackson shock probation if he had accepted the one-year offer. Under that agreement, Jackson would have only served a portion of the year in jail and lived out the entirety of the sentence under strict watch by the court system.
Clymer said in the status hearing that, by withdrawing his guilty plea, Jackson was essentially eliminating any responsibility he had in the incident.
Said Blankenship: “We’ve got these charges and I’m not sure if I should engage in any plea negotiation with the defense or of we should just let a regular jury hear the case and have a trial.”
Story by Lexy Gross, Staff writer.