Local News

Jury acquits two suspects in attempted murder, robbery

SEBRING - After deliberating an hour and a half, a Highlands County Circuit Court jury Friday night acquitted two men on robbery and attempted murder charges. But, the two suspects, Michael Jackson III, 18, and Cameron Ancrum, 21, face trials on additional charges in unrelated cases, said Assistant State Attorney Steve Houchin. The two men were tried this past week after being accused of robbing and shooting two men outside of Club Montengo on Martin Luther King Boulevard on Aug. 18, 2012. They were accused of approaching the two men outside of the bar and robbing jewelry from them at gunpoint. One of the victims retrieved a gun from his vehicle and went after the robbers, authorities said, who then shot back at the two men.
During closing arguments, Robert Gray, who was Ancrum's defense attorney, questioned why the victims were initially unable to identify the suspects, but did after seeing a photo lineup. He also questioned whether the defendants saw six photos on one sheet of paper or six photos separately, with law enforcement and the defendants disagreeing on that. "Somehow the integrity of this identification process was compromised," he said. Assistant State Attorney Bradley T. Wilson argued that whether Sebring police followed every nuance of a model identification procedure wasn't the issue. He said the victim testimony is what was important. "This is not a final exam of the police academy," he said. "If you believe the witnesses, none of that matters." Wilson disagreed that the identification process was compromised. He also argued that witnesses can also have a better memory after the situation calms. Jackson and Ancrum were both charged with two counts of attempted felony murder, two counts of armed robbery, improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm in person. In an unrelated case, Jackson is still awaiting trial after being accused of shooting a bouncer outside Sierra's Bar in Avon Park. Authorities said that after Jackson was ejected from the bar, he retrieved a gun and shot the bouncer, who survived. In an unrelated third case, he's charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver within 1,000 feet of a church, sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church and possession of drug paraphernalia. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834