Tennessee Man Receives 40-Year Prison Sentence for ‘Possibly’ Infecting Girl With HIV
A Hernando, Tenn., man on Wednesday was sentenced to 40 years in prison for having sex with an 11-year-old girl and "possibly" infecting her with HIV, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Tony Jackson and the girl, now 14, had unprotected sex at least once between April 1997 and May 1998, and she subsequently tested positive for HIV infection. Jackson's HIV status was kept from the jury during the trial, but during the sentencing Circuit Court Judge George Ready said that he believed Jackson was a "danger to society" and "could have been charged with attempted manslaughter or murder for having HIV and knowingly having unprotected sex." Although neither the girl nor Jackson testified at the hearing, the girl "delivered a stunning statement" through her attorney. "[S]he has told me to tell you that at some point toward the end of their physical relationship, Mr. Jackson told her he hoped she got AIDS and died," Assistant District Attorney Rhonda Amis said. Defense Attorney John Keith Perry disagreed with the validity of that statement, saying, "There's nothing on paper that shows he knew of his disease and knowingly passed it on to the victim." He added that it would be a "stretch" to trace both the girl's and Jackson's sexual histories to isolate Jackson as the person who infected her. Jackson's former mother-in-law, Sheila Mims, also testified for the prosecution, saying that Jackson "must have known" he was infected during his relationship with the girl because he was listed in the health department computer files when her daughter, Joneshia, tested HIV-positive in January 1998. Mims' daughter died of AIDS-related pneumonia earlier this year (Banerji, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 12/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.