James Jackson found guilty of murder in death of 10-year-old

66-year-old also found guilty of sexual battery in 1984 cold case

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After nine hours of deliberation, a jury on Friday found a 66-year-old man guilty in the 1984 sexual battery and murder of 10-year-old Tammy Welch in Jacksonville.

James Jackson, who lived next door to Tammy's family, was a suspect from the beginning but was not arrested and charged until 2013, after the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said DNA evidence linked him to Tammy's death.

The prosecution's case focused on those DNA findings, as a forensics expert testified that Jackson "could not be excluded as a possible contributor" to a partial DNA profile obtained from Tammy's sexual assault kit in 2012.

Jackson's defense attorney questioned the validity of those results during cross-examination, but the defense did not call its own DNA expert to refute investigators' findings.

Tammy, the daughter of a sailor who was away on deployment, was raped and killed at her apartment complex on 103rd Street the same day her family was preparing to move out of their apartment and into Navy housing.

Jackson was interviewed the day Tammy was killed and again the next month but no arrest was made.

Prosecutors grilled Jackson about that first interview Thursday, questioning Jackson's response to investigators on the day Tammy was found dead.

Jackson admitted that when detectives questioned him about the little girl's death that day, he responded, "What does this have to do with me?"

“I’m asking why your first response to homicide detectives about the death of a person feet away from your home is, 'What does this have to do with me?'" prosecutor Alan Mizrahi asked Jackson on the stand. "Don’t you think the right answer should have been, 'How can I help?'”

Jackson replied, "Yes, probably."

Tammy's case was reopened in 1999, and Jackson was interviewed again in 2002, which is when he provided a DNA sample.

That sample, prosecutors argued, proved Jackson was the one who attacked and killed Tammy.

Prosecutors also asked about a tattoo he got while incarcerated reading, "Tammy Welch 1984." Jackson said he didn't know it was there and he promptly wanted it removed.

After the state rested, Jackson's daughter took the stand before Jackson testified, saying he did not rape, kill or even have contact with Tammy the day she was found dead.

"I never touched no Tammy Welch, I didn’t even know Tammy Welch at all. I never seen Tammy," he said.

A jury will now determine whether Jackson will receive the Death Penalty or Life in Florida State Prison. That sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin before the Honorable James Daniel on Dec. 19.

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