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Finally, closure …

Family, friends remained vigilant after Michael Jackson sentenced to life

By Lee Wardlaw lee@claytodayonline.com
Posted 3/16/23

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After a prolonged trial that has taken a winding road of twists and turns since Jan. 4, 2007, Micheal Renard Jackson was finally sentenced to life in prison without parole …

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Finally, closure …

Family, friends remained vigilant after Michael Jackson sentenced to life


Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – After a prolonged trial that has taken a winding road of twists and turns since Jan. 4, 2007, Micheal Renard Jackson was finally sentenced to life in prison without parole for committing the brutal murder and rape of 25-year-old Andrea Boyer.

Jackson was formally sentenced – for a second time – at the Clay County Courthouse on a rainy, dreary, last Monday on stormy Monday afternoon.

While finally punished and locked away forever, Jackson’s trial put the victim’s family through two torturous trials in the past 18 years after he initially was sentenced to death for the heinous, criminal, violent act.

Justice was finally served in the county after more than 16 years in a trial that encompassed a large portion of the lives of many of Boyer’s family members and friends. Still, it didn’t come without plenty of emotional wear and tear along the way for those close to her.

“I’m a little bit melancholy right now because (the trial) has defined a huge portion of my life. I was 18 when this happened and I’m 34 now. My entire adulthood was consumed by this, and my career was defined by this monster (Jackson). Now, we can all move a little bit forward,” said Heather Rich, Shad Boyer’s sister.

It didn’t take long to get to the point during the first trial. The jury only spent 90 minutes to render a guilty verdict. However, the Florida Supreme Court tossed out the verdict after discovering that county deputies made prejudicial comments while on the stand. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down his trial, as well. 

According to Assistant State Attorney Daniel Skinner, this was one of the biggest challenges of the trial for Boyer’s loved ones.

“That was the biggest struggle in the case, the long and lengthy period that it took for the trial. Our hearts broke for Shad Boyer’s and Andrea Boyer’s families, as far as the state was concerned,” he said.

Rich said Skinner was integral in the case.

“(Daniel’s) role was integral to making sure all of this was successful. Without him, I don’t think our family would have been able to make it through 16 years of this. The fact that he has been with us from the very beginning is incredibly uncommon with how many prosecutors come and go and how cases change hands,” Rich said.

She described the family-like bond he fostered with both sides of the Boyer family as the “glue that made it all stick together.”

Boyer’s mother and father, who have been in Washington together recently, were able to hear Jackson’s guilty verdict together on Feb. 18.

“He was able to hear that verdict, which was able to bring him peace and hope,” Skinner said.

Dr. Michal Harris, a co-worker and close friend of Boyer’s, was one of two that provided a closing victim statement, along with Boyer’s niece, Kayli Latner.

Harris said Boyer’s death significantly changed the course of the lives of those involved with the case, providing her with increased resilience, care for those around her, and appreciation of everyday life.

“In a very strange way, I think it puts things in a proper perspective for her. If I can live through that, a business can survive that, and a community could lift a business the same way that Clay County lifted the veterinarians’ hospital after that happened. It’s almost difficult for me to get mad about some things that we get upset about in our daily lives,” she said.

But most important: “I’m just really glad that I’ll never be in the same room with Micheal R. Jackson for the rest of my life. That will be a very happy thing for me. I think we’re all pretty happy to close this chapter and move on,” Harris said.

Jackson spent nearly 20 years in the justice system before finally being sentenced to life in prison. He was on probation for a previous rape when he raped and killed Boyer.

“Michael Jackson has again been convicted of murder and sexual assault and will spend the rest of his life in prison. This was a long journey to justice for Andrea Boyer’s family, friends, and the community and result of the commitment of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and our prosecutorial team,” said State Attorney Melissa Nelson.

Meanwhile, Boyer impacts lives every day. Harris said she posted information about the case to a large online veterinary group with about 65,000 international members. Since then her case has had an immense worldwide impact on the safety of modern veterinary hospitals.

“I can honestly say that what had happened to Andrea has helped change security in the office in probably every country on the planet, and that’s pretty cool,” Harris said.

Rich, who works in law enforcement, said that the trickle-down effect could affect hundreds to thousands of lives because the case can be used as a teaching moment on investigating homicides in the modern day and the future.