AUBURN — A former Bates College student pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of aggravated criminal trespass stemming from an early-morning drunken assault last year on an 82-year-old man in his home near the campus.
Mac Jackson, 23, of Mount Hood, Ore., will be able to withdraw that plea in two years and plead guilty instead to two misdemeanor charges if he complies with the terms of his plea agreement. He faces no jail time.
In a “very magnanimous” gesture, the victim had expressed concern that the incident not impede Jackson’s effort to build a future for himself, District Attorney Andrew Robinson said at the hearing in Androscoggin County Superior Court. At the same time, Robinson said, the victim believed that Jackson should face consequences for his actions.
“He did not want the defendant to just walk away, but one of (the victim’s) strongest concerns was that this was going to follow (Jackson) for the rest of his life and he didn’t want that to happen either,” Robinson said.
The family of the victim, who died last month, was satisfied with the terms of the agreement, Robinson said.
Jackson had been indicted on two felony charges, aggravated criminal trespass and aggravated assault, the more serious of them punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
If Jackson meets the requirements of the agreement, he will return to court in December 2017 to withdraw his guilty plea to aggravated criminal trespass and will instead plead guilty to criminal trespass and assault, both Class D misdemeanors. He’ll also pay a mandatory $300 fine.
Jackson was a biology major and football team captain at Bates. In 2012, he was named All-New England First Team Specialist by the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association.
Police responded to a White Street home on the night of April 16, 2014, at about 1:30 a.m. for a report of a burglary in progress. When they arrived, they saw Jackson standing next to a table in the kitchen. Wet from rain, he had no shirt on and was missing a shoe, according to court papers.
The elderly resident was lying on the kitchen floor in pain. The homeowner told police he had been working on his taxes when someone began knocking on his door. He responded and ordered the stranger to leave. Jackson refused and started hitting the window on the door. The victim eventually opened the door for Jackson, fearing the window might break.
Jackson walked into the kitchen, Robinson told the judge. The victim repeatedly told Jackson to leave. They struggled and Jackson pushed the victim into a wood stove pedestal, breaking the victim’s hip, Robinson said.
Jackson was “extremely intoxicated” at the time of the incident, Robinson said.
Walt McKee, Jackson’s attorney, said his client remembered only leaving a bar that night, then waking up in jail.
“For a significant period of time, he had no idea really what was going on or what he had done,” McKee said.
After leaving Bates, Jackson returned to Oregon where he underwent substance abuse and psychological counseling, McKee said. He worked for a year, then enrolled in college on the West Coast.
“Mr. Jackson is on the right track,” McKee said.
As part of his two-year sentencing postponement, Jackson must undergo substance abuse evaluation and possible treatment.
He is barred from having or using alcohol or illegal drugs and can be searched and tested for them at random. He must not go back to the White Street home.
Free on $2,500 cash bail, Jackson may retrieve his bail and remain free on his personal recognizance, Justice MaryGay Kennedy said.
In a parallel civil matter, both sides reached agreement after Jackson indicated “immediately” that he wanted “to make amends for what he had done,” Robinson said.
Unlike a home invasion where the intruder intends to commit another crime once in the home, this was a case of mistaken identity of the place, Robinson said. The defendant “was clearly confused” due to his high level of intoxication, Robinson said.
“You really lucked out that the victim was as magnanimous as he was,” Kennedy said.