James Jackson slapped another man in the face last year during an argument, and for that the other man stabbed him to death, a prosecutor told a Schenectady County Court jury Thursday.
Prosecutor William Sanderson told the jury that Stanley A. Morris committed the “vicious and sudden” knife attack on Jackson outside Yates Village, with Morris’ own 1-year-old son present.
Sanderson said Morris attacked two men, Jackson and Jackson’s friend Christopher Mortimore, stabbing at Mortimore with a sheathed knife before attacking Jackson with the bare blade.
Morris’ attorney, Adam Parisi, countered that Morris feared for his life, facing two men who approached him with irrational complaints over a woman.
Parisi argued his client reacted knowing that Mortimore had a violent past and fearing what the two men would do to him and his son.
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Morris stabbed Jackson once in the back and once in the chest, killing him, Sanderson told the jury. Mortimore escaped uninjured.
“What is this in response to?” Sanderson told the jury. “A slap.”
“A slap,” Sanderson told the jury later, “does not give him the right to use deadly physical force.”
Morris, 46, formerly of Yates Village, is standing trial on one count of second-degree murder in connection with Jackson’s Sept. 25, 2015, death.
[Family, friends recall Schenectady stabbing victim]
Morris stabbed Jackson, 28, just before 4 p.m. that day on the Wood Avenue side of the complex, near Van Vranken Avenue, Sanderson told the jury.
The evidence is expected to include street and store surveillance footage that captured part of the attack and the aftermath, Sanderson said.
The initial interaction came as Jackson and Mortimore approached Morris to question him about his relationship with Mortimore’s girlfriend prior to Mortimore dating her.
The conversation quickly became heated and Morris mentioned Jackson’s girlfriend. Jackson slapped him. “That’s when [Morris] pulls out the knife, pulls it from inside his shorts and immediately strikes out,” Sanderson told the jury.
Morris hits Mortimore in the chest, but inflicted no injury as the sheath was still on the blade.
Mortimore backed away, but Jackson remained in range. Morris removed the sheath and stabbed Jackson twice and chased after him, police said. Jackson died a short distance away.
Morris fled to a nearby store with his son, but saw Mortimore again in the street. Cameras captured Morris advancing toward Mortimore in the street. Mortimore backed away and Morris returned to the store where police found him.
Parisi argued that Morris wanted nothing that day other than to go to the store with his son to get some dinner. Instead, Jackson and Mortimore accosted him with their unreasonable allegations.
Parisi told the jury Jackson’s slap was no small slap, and it came with threats of further violence from an enraged Mortimore over a minor incident involving a woman from prior to Mortimore dating her.
“That’s the mentality that he’s faced with on his way to get some Beefaroni,” Parisi said. That’s the mentality of these people.”
Mortimore’s past includes a 2012 assault conviction for hitting someone with a brick during a fight.
Parisi also painted a dark picture of Jackson, telling the jury he had drug paraphernalia on him and drugs in his system.
“What’s he supposed to do? Get killed?” Parisi told the jury. “Let his son get killed?”
In the end, Parisi told the jury, they will find Morris was “absolutely justified” in defending himself and his son.
Some family and friends of Jackson watched the openings from the courtroom gallery, dabbing their eyes during portions.
He was the father of a 4-year-old girl.
The trial is expected to continue into next week. Judge Matthew Sypniewski is presiding.
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.