The jurors at the Ind trial will have much evidence to consider. Is there anything wrong with asking them to evaluate the caliber of the defendant’s life as well as his weapon?
~ Raymond McCaffrey, columnist Gazette Telegraph
Tom Kennedy was a conscientious co-counsel. He always found time for Jacob, and he always found time for me. During one of our initial meetings, he explained how Jacob’s plea of self defense would be presented. If jurors viewed Jacob’s actions through Jacob’s eyes, through his distorted perceptions rather than from their own—as the law stated they must—then Jacob had indeed been in “imminent danger” when he pulled the trigger.
“We’re confident Jacob’s story will be told,” Kennedy said, after interviewing his client and going over my multitudinous reports. “I’m just not sure Jacob will be the one to tell it.” (Jacob was ultimately informed by his attorneys that if he insisted on testifying, “We’ll load up all our shit and walk out of the courtroom.” Thus, Tom and Shaun denied Jacob a basic constitutional right.)
Tom believed that Bill Aspinwall, a seasoned prosecutor of some twenty years, would tear the sixteen-year-old apart. Jacob’s brother agreed.
Charles said, “If he gets on the stand, he’ll just shut down.”
But if Jacob didn’t speak, who would tell about his many suicide attempts and the last seven months of his life when his state of mind had been so precarious?
Still, Tom worried, there was the little matter of Jacob’s emotions. Problem was he didn’t have any. Most children in Jacob’s situation aren’t remorseful over killing their parents. That’s just a fact. They view their abusers as Satan Incarnate. How can you feel remorseful over destroying the devil? As Jacob explained, “When the cops kill somebody bad they give them a medal. I killed somebody bad and they want to put me away for the rest of my life.”
But the jury needed tears. If Jacob appeared callous and cold, his testimony would be the only one considered. Jurors would convict him on the basis, not of his words, but on how skillfully and/or sincerely he projected emotion.
Another problem, however, was that Jacob’s story changed. While most defendants come up with more horrific tales nearer their trial dates, Jacob was just the opposite. He minimized. Everybody gets hit. Everybody gets called nasty names.
“My parents didn’t always yell at me for four hours at a time. Sometimes only two. And it only happened a couple of times a week… I quit eating and sleeping because I was depressed over my break-up with Lila rather than Kermode and my mom.”
He hadn’t gotten the belt the murder night after all. He hadn’t killed Kermode and Pamela because he was abused. He’d killed Kermode and Pamela because he hated them.
“But WHY did you hate them, Jacob?” I asked repeatedly.
“I don’t have to have a reason. I just did.”
During the months I’d spent with Jacob, I’d seen so many transformations. Initially, he’d reminded me of a frightened deer. As he became more comfortable with me and his incarceration, his self confidence had returned—or perhaps manifested itself for the first time. Among the Jordans’ closest acquaintances, as well as some family members, there was remarkably little sympathy for the deceased. “Those killings were the best thing that ever happened to Jacob,” said one. “Finally, he’s free.”
Jacob was extremely mercurial. He seemed to re-invent himself as often as Madonna. One time he would have long hair; the next it was shaven. Sometimes he sounded like a philosopher; occasionally, a gangbanger. When I walked into that attorney’s booth, I never knew which Jacob I was going to meet. I became familiar with depressed Jacob, tough Jacob, sweet Jacob, punk Jacob, seductive Jacob, vulnerable Jacob, limbo Jacob, intellectual Jacob, fundamentalist Jacob, argumentative Jacob and probably a dozen others.
But no matter who Jacob decided to be on any given day, he was always perceptive, discerning—and entertaining. When he really kicked his intellect into gear, he could also be extremely logical and persuasive. Forensics, plus years of interrogation by his parents, had sharpened his debating skills until he could twist me like a pretzel. I found all of Jacob’s personas fascinating, many challenging, and some incomprehensible.
Perhaps I found him so confusing because we occupied different emotional planets. What I, who had enjoyed a happy childhood and was largely ignorant of the dark side of humanity, didn’t realize was that Jacob Ind is a textbook abused child. He merely pretended to inhabit the land of the living. Attacked by both parents, Jacob had long ago been soul murdered.
We couldn’t even agree on the definition of words.
“What are feelings?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I really don’t have any.”
“What does rage mean to you? How does your body react?”
“I can’t say. I’m not sure. Nothing ever seems quite real or genuine.”
Love meant a different thing to Jacob than it did to me. As did physical pain. Happiness, even fear, had to be re-defined. So did prison. To me, prison is what Jacob is locked up in. To Jacob, prison was life with his parents. So, despite the iron bars and all the unspeakable indignities of incarceration, Jacob considers himself to be free.
I was amazed that Jacob managed to survive, even to carve out a life for himself. Was he being truthful with me? Was he really indifferent or did he want his freedom so badly that he dared not even hope? Did he really believe imprisonment was preferable to his parents?
Or could there be another reason?
When I asked psychologist Frank Barron whether he thought Jacob would ever really relate the extent of his abuse in order to help with his defense, Barron responded, “It depends on how badly he wants to be punished.”
I guess now we know.
Jury selection began May 2, 1994. It lasted one week. The defense was surprised by how pervasively abuse seemed to touch people’s lives, and thought they’d assembled a sympathetic jury. They were also hoping that lead prosecutor Bill Aspinwall, who has an abrasive courtroom manner, would alienate the jurors. With his aggressive voir dire, he’d made one woman cry. Another asked, “Why are you doing this to me?”
In his mid-fifties with a Richard Nixon nose and a penchant for cheap suits, Bill Aspinwall has a reputation for being shrewd and intelligent. When running unsuccessfully for District Attorney in August 1996, the Gazette Telegraph called him the ‘Rambo of the District Attorney’s Office—a temperamental commando of the court.’
Aspinwall agrees. “It’s a battle and it’s a war and you better be willing to fight any way you can.”
His adversaries have characterized him in less flattering terms. One attorney labeled him “one step above dishonest.” Aspinwall was reprimanded by the Colorado Court of Appeals for his behavior in two high profile murder cases. Jennifer Reali killed the wife of her lover, Brian Hood. Aspinwall tried and won both cases. In 1991, appeals judges ruled Aspinwall’s conduct in the Reali trial was “inappropriate, unwarranted and unprofessional.” In 1992, they commented on the chief prosecutor’s behavior in the Hood trial.
“We agree that some of the prosecutor’s comments were ill-considered and that his facial expressions and whispered remarks were both unprofessional and offensive.”
In order to elicit sympathy from the jury and overcome his sometimes obnoxious personality, Aspinwall often comes across as a bumbler, though he is anything but that. The defense strategy to handle Aspinwall: Ignore him. Let him hang himself.
While Shaun and Tom were pleased with their jury, members of the Woodland Park community couldn’t understand why the defense didn’t insist upon a change of venue. A gag order had been invoked early on, but that was after all the details of the crime had been splashed across the newspaper and on the nightly news. The prosecution had largely had its say while the defense had effectively been muzzled.
“Everybody’s already made up their minds,” said a local postal worker. “All they want to know is why.”
One potential juror, who did not make the final cut, later told me, “As I waited to be called in, I knew this kid would get convicted. Eighty five percent of the people had already decided upon first degree murder.”
Colorado Springs, where the trial was actually held, is one of the most conservative cities in the United States. It is home to the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, a huge army base, not to mention tens of thousands of military retirees. As in all professions, the Armed Forces tends to attract a certain type of mind set, which could most succinctly be labeled anti-liberal. Colorado Springs is home to Amendment Two, an anti-gay measure that had triggered the “Boycott Colorado” movement following the 1992 election. It is a pro-business community where a beautiful view of Pikes Peak is supposed to compensate for low wages caused by weak unions and retirees willing to work “for a little something extra.” As evinced by its horrendous sprawl, cookie cutter housing tracts and endless shopping malls, the city council considers developers a notch below God. The Gazette Telegraph, Colorado Springs’ lone newspaper, is proudly conservative. A moderate or dissenting viewpoint seldom reaches its editorial pages. More than one hundred religious organizations, many of them fundamentalist in nature, make their home in the area. Focus on the Family is only the most famous. With Dr. James Dobson’s Biblical principles of family values and child rearing so much in evidence, it may come as a surprise that the area has some of the highest child abuse statistics in the state.
As a child therapist lamented following Jacob’s conviction, “Those statistics never come out in the Gazette. It doesn’t fit with the sterling image they want to convey. Just as our letters in support of Jacob, saying he was only a symptom rather than the problem, were never printed.”
On the first actual day of testimony, Courtroom 403 was packed. Two cameras had been set up and reporters could observe proceedings on monitors located in a cubbyhole across the way. Several seats were reserved for the press and public defenders. The rest had to scramble for what few available spaces remained. Frank Ind, who had taken leave from his city job in Rockford, Illinois, was totally barred from the trial. He spent the entire six weeks pacing outside in the hallway. Prosecutor Bill Aspinwall also denied access to several other friendly faces, including me, on the grounds that we might be called as “rebuttal witnesses.” None of us were.
As a member of Jacob’s defense said, “Aspinwall has no intention of calling anyone. He just wants to make life more difficult for everyone involved with Jacob. He’s just being an asshole.”
Later, at Gabriel’s trial, actual witnesses were allowed to sit in during the entire proceedings. For whatever reason, Aspinwall appeared to have a personal vendetta against Jacob. Or maybe his animosity can be explained from a different perspective. From a layman’s view, I would assume that the defendant who would receive the most vilification would be a Gabriel Adams. What possible rationale could there be for killing someone merely for money? Jacob had an excuse. You didn’t have to believe it or accept it, but I considered it a mitigating factor. Not so the law. The law generally goes after the “conspirator” more forcefully than his hired gun. Jacob was the mastermind. Didn’t matter the reason. He was the most culpable.
The defense was hoping Aspinwall’s obstreperous manner would backfire. A couple of jurors did develop an intense dislike for the man. “I wanted to kill him,” said one woman. But several had problems with Shaun. He didn’t really seem all that engaged and they were not charmed by his courtroom manner.
“He just wasn’t right for that jury,” said one attorney who observed several sessions. “He came across as too “eastern,” maybe, too different.”
On the other hand, Tom Kennedy collected a clique of admirers, who pumped me for information about his marital status, and whether he was as nice in person as he seemed to be in court.
Although the courtroom that first day was primed for the “star” attraction, it was Gabriel Adams rather than Jacob who first entered. There was almost an audible sigh of disappointment from onlookers. Throughout, Gabriel had seemed an incidental. Most people dismissed him as a psychopath. It was Jacob Ind whose story they wanted to hear. What would drive a kid to murder his parents? One Woodland Park newspaper had compared his case to the Menendez brothers, whose trial had recently ended in a hung jury. What sensational secrets would Jacob and his brother offer up to the public? Colorado Springs wasn’t in a forgiving mood, but it certainly wanted every salacious detail.
Gabriel’s attorneys requested and received a new court date, October 24, 1994. After Major was ushered out, everyone’s eyes remained glued to the doorway through which Jacob would emerge. The tension was palpable. Those unfamiliar with the justice system, at least in El Paso County, didn’t know that trials never start on time, so they kept nudging each other and asking, “What do you think is happening? Why is this taking so long?”
Finally, Jacob walked into the courtroom. For the first time since his arrest, he was wearing street clothes—an aquamarine sweater and matching shirt with brown pants. His hair was neatly parted and he wore glasses, which added to his preppie look. This Jacob didn’t have much in common with the Jacob I knew from CJC. That Jacob was actually kind of a slob. Sometimes he would come in with his hair all slicked back, and other times as if he hadn’t combed it in days. (In fairness, a lot of times I woke him up.) This Jacob was trying manfully to do what he thought was expected of him—though he wasn’t quite sure what that might be since Shaun hadn’t offered many tips on courtroom demeanor.
Jacob even tried to monitor his body language. The Jacob I knew was always waving his arms or fiddling with something—a perpetual motion machine. This Jacob did his best to “behave,” though he couldn’t resist occasionally turning to smile at one of his friends, and his attempts at dressing himself weren’t entirely successful. His collar wasn’t all the way out of his sweater, and his pants were too long. Much ado was made in the press over the fact that his clothes—the sweater was an extra large—were too big, making him appear like a little boy lost. Some acted as if this were a calculated move on the defense’s part. The truth of it is, Nancy Overmyer, one of Jacob’s most faithful friends, had bought his clothes without ever being allowed to measure him. And, as far as his glasses, another “fashion prop,” I had been fighting for months to get Jacob’s vision checked. Finally, Tom Kennedy had arranged to have him visit an optometrist while handcuffed and in chains.
“Maybe we should make defendants wear their prison uniforms to court,” said one member of the D.A.’s office in a television interview. “Or the clothes they were arrested in.”
Which would have been quite a trick for Jacob. He had grown nearly two inches during his incarceration and put on twenty pounds. Apparently, growth spurts and weight gain are common traits of abused kids after they’re taken out of their harsh environments. As one child psychologist said, “I’ve seen it happen time and again. It’s as if their bodies are saying,’It’s safe now. You can concentrate on something other than the fear.’”
The jury, ten women, four men, paraded into the jury box. So these were the people who held Jacob’s life in their hands. Most were middle aged and casually dressed. The men preferred T-shirts and blue jeans. One older woman favored suits and always looked the part of the professional. Jurors’ occupations ranged from psychiatric nurse to housewife to a museum operator to a construction worker. Some appeared to take their duty seriously. Others seemed to consider this trial a personal inconvenience.
The prosecution consisted of two seasoned attorneys. Bill Aspinwall’s co-counsel, Gordon Dennison, a former military prosecutor, is short and balding. Jacob, who liked Dennison and applauded his professionalism, commented, “He seems to have an iron rod up his butt.” With his intense, harried style and jerky movements, Dennison reminded one spectator of “a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz.”
Opening statements began. Aspinwall addressed the jury first. “This is a sad case for me to bring to you, and I take no pleasure or joy in it.” According to him, the prosecution would prove that Kermode and Pamela had given their sons an upper middle class life, only to be rewarded with death. Experts had analyzed the scene, and their analysis told a horrific tale of murder and mayhem.
“In the early morning hours of December 17, 1992, Kermode was sleeping on his side of the bed, and Pam Jordan was next to him, sleeping on her stomach, when Gabriel Adams entered the bedroom, armed with a .22 single action revolver. He pointed it right at the head of Kermode and shot him above the left eyebrow. The bullet didn’t penetrate; it bounced off to the side.
“Pam Jordan woke up, and the next shot was fired at her. She got out of bed and stood facing her attacker. The next shot entered her shoulder. Kermode must have sat up because the next bullet was shot into his face. He must have reached out to the attacker, a couple of feet away, with his hand warding him off, because the next shot entered his arm.
“Both Kermode and Pam must have gone towards the exit, but they were met by Gabriel Adams with a knife and they couldn’t get to the door. They fought him. Pam’s hands were cut, and the webbing between her thumb was sliced.
“They must have gone to the bathroom door then, tried with all their might to get in that door, desperately trying to get away from the knife attack of Gabrial Adams. Their backs are now toward him, and he’s hacking at them with the knife. Pam got the worst of it. She was hacked a number of times…her skull was opened up.
“But they can’t get in because on the other side of that bathroom door is Jacob Ind, holding the door shut while his conspirator is hacking away at his stepfather and his natural mother.
“When he does open the door, in his hand is a can of bear mace, a hot pepper spray that is used to ward off bears. He sprays them right in the face, then takes a .357 Magnum revolver and shoots his stepfather in the head. Kermode Jordan dies, falls in the doorway between his bedroom and the bathroom. Then the defendant shoots his mother in the head and she falls on top of her dead husband.
“Afterward, the two boys wash up in the same bathroom in which the bodies are lying. Then, taking his weapons with him, Gabriel Adams left, and Jacob Ind went to bed, then got up in the morning and went to school.”
When Aspinwall described the murders, Jacob flinched, and his hands trembled. The prosecution’s version differed from Jacob’s in several respects—when and why he was in the master bedroom, the sequence of events involving the bear mace, the murders themselves, as well as the placement of the bodies. Nor had Jacob ever said anything about washing off blood in the sink. (Blood tests never actually determined who, besides Gabrial, might have washed themselves off. Aspinwall can’t have it both ways. He made a point of saying, Jacob “didn’t have a bruise, cut, or scratch on him,” and conversely that Jacob washed off HIS blood.)
Aspinwall concluded, “When the police got finished they said, ‘Why? Why does a teenaged boy kill so coldly, so viciously?’ Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll find this is a killing done out of hate. The defendant wanted his mother dead and he killed her himself.”
Before the defense’s beginning, the courtroom took a break. Throughout the day, people had stopped to look in the windows, though a sign warned not to open the door while court was in session. Even in the elevator people talked about the trial and their impressions of the case. Jacob could properly be called “notorious.” Everyone seemed to have an opinion of Jacob Ind—a boy they’d never met.
After court reconvened, Tom Kennedy stood and faced the jury.
“When we think of home, we think of a place where we are safe, secure and loved—a place we go to be safe from the world. When Jacob thought of home, he thought of a place of humiliation, abuse and degradation. When he killed his abusive stepfather and his cold and controlling mother on December 17, that was only the end of the story, ladies and gentlemen. The story began when Jacob Ind was born.
“To understand why this happened, you must understand that he saw no alternative. He saw no escape, and he resorted to desperate acts.”
Reminding the jury that the case was not a “who-done-it,” Kennedy said that the real question was one of what could have happened in a home to allow something like this.
Kennedy led the jurors through Jacob’s life—Pamela’s divorce from Frank Ind, her marriage to Kermode and all the accompanying abuse. After the Jordans moved to Woodland Park in the mid-eighties, “Now there was an added factor: isolation. Their support group and friends were gone. They didn’t know a soul out here. And their house was distant from other houses.
“The abuse was this family’s dark secret. The boys were schooled, ‘This is our secret.’”
Tom has an engaging but still intense way of speaking. He appeared to be speaking directly to the man in the back row with his arms folded, his body language saying, “I’m closed to all of this.”
Despite the fact that opening and closing statements are pretty much considered to be sacrosanct by the opposing team, Bill Aspinwall stood and objected when Tom mentioned that Charles had been given weight-lifting equipment to help him with a weight problem. Judge Looney, who never once raised her voice during the six week trial, said she would rule on Aspinwall’s objection later and motioned Kennedy to continue. Tom did not speak for nearly a minute, silently letting the jurors know that his opponent had been out of line.
Tom concluded, “Jacob’s life really began to fall apart in the summer of 1992 when his brother Charles left home. Charles got himself emancipated. He couldn’t take it any more and moved out. Up until that point, Charles had tried to protect Jacob. When he left, Jacob’s only ally was gone. Life went from bad to intolerable.
“After December 17, Jacob told his friends. He didn’t take off. He admitted freely what occurred. He said, ‘I couldn’t take it anymore.’
“The one thing he said that sticks out is, ‘I just wanted to be safe. I just wanted Charlie and I to be safe.’”
Later, after the jury was removed, Judge Looney expressed her displeasure over Aspinwall’s interruption. Aspinwall, who appeared to believe that he was in charge of the courtroom, would not be cowed. He called Tom’s remarks “lies.”
The trial was off to an acrimonious start. Problem was Tom and Shaun never fought back. Thinking Aspinwall would self-destruct, they tried to concentrate on the case itself. But this jury, judging from their verdict, liked Aspinwall’s theatrics. Courtroom spectators did not, but they, after all, were not in a position to vote life or death for Jacob Ind.
 Aspinwall was also later reprimanded for his behavior in Jacob’s trial.
There was a time when most Americans—especially parents—lived by the credo: Spare the rod and spoil the child. If kids got out of line, they got a “good spanking.” If they said a bad word, they got their mouths washed out with soap. That’s how children learned what was right and wrong. Of course parents—at least the good ones—made sure their kids knew that they loved them too.
But defense attorneys say love was missing from Jacob’s home. Instead, discipline was used to intimidate the boy. Jacob and his brother lived in fear, never quite sure when the rod was going to come…
~Raymond McCaffrey/columnist Gazette Telegraph
Chapter 27 (Click to entire chapter.)