Cloquet man accused in stabbing may represent himselfDonald William Laquier Jackson, 25, who is accused of attempted murder for the benefit of a gang, is conflicted about whether he wants to be represented by a lawyer or defend himself at trial.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
A Cloquet man accused of attempted murder for the benefit of a gang is conflicted about whether he wants to be represented by a lawyer or defend himself at trial. On Monday a judge gave him three more days to make up his mind.
Donald William Laquier Jackson, 25, appeared in State District Court in Duluth, charged with six crimes including a second count of attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault committed for the benefit of a gang, first-degree assault causing great bodily harm and two counts of second-degree assault.
Laquier Jackson met with Northeastern Minnesota Chief Public Defender Fred Friedman in the St. Louis County Jail on Feb. 14 and told him that he wanted to represent himself. Friedman explained to him the rights that he would be giving up, as well as pointing out that he would lose the investigative work and legal research provided by the public defender’s office.
On Friday, Laquier Jackson sent an e-mail to the court saying that he changed his mind and wanted defense attorney Mikkel Long to remain his trial counsel.
Then in court Monday, the defendant said that he wanted to represent himself.
“In contemplating a lot of things, I feel it is in my own best interest to argue my own point of view,” Laquier Jackson told Judge John DeSanto.
The judge encouraged the defendant “to rethink yet again the wisdom of this decision” and scheduled a hearing for Thursday.
“This gentleman representing himself is in everybody’s view a large error,” Friedman said after the hearing. “He has a right to do this, but he’s far better off with Mikkel Long representing him. It’s almost always a mistake for somebody to represent themselves and I’ve told Mr. Laquier Jackson that. And I’ll tell him that again before court on Thursday.”
Laquier Jackson and Norman Wayne Cutbank III, 17, are accused of taking part in stabbing a 17-year-old girl in the heart and beating her and the 18-year-old boy who came to her rescue on Oct. 13.
Cutbank pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and aiding and abetting second-degree assault. He admitted to striking both victims with a bat. He was sentenced to 58½ months for conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and eight months for aiding and abetting second-degree assault.
The Duluth police officer who responded to the crime scene near East Fifth Street and Lake Avenue couldn’t find a pulse when he first reached the girl. She underwent surgery on her heart at St. Luke’s hospital. Physicians had to hold the girl’s heart together so the laceration could be repaired, according to the criminal complaint. The girl also suffered a concussion after being beaten. She was hospitalized in serious condition for a week.
Cutbank admitted to beating the victims with the bat, but denied stabbing the girl.
According to the criminal complaint, while the victims were being beaten, they were threatened with taunts: “This is Native Mob,” “Watch your back” and, “You will get a bullet in the head.”
The victims have asked authorities not to release their names because they fear for their lives. Authorities have identified Laquier Jackson as a member of the Native Mob.
As a juvenile, Laquier Jackson was convicted of second-degree murder in 2005. He was one of six people charged in connection with Marcus Johnson’s death on Sept. 24, 2003. The group went to the Duluth apartment where the 5-year-old boy lived to rob a resident of drugs and money. The boy was accidently shot to death during the botched robbery attempt. He was sleeping on a sleeper sofa in another room when a shot fired by Gary Wayne Laquier, then 18 and Donald’s brother, went through a wall and struck the boy in the head.
At the time, police said Donald Laquier Jackson was behind the door taking part in the attempted robbery, but he wasn’t directly involved in the shooting. He served time at the Red Wing Correctional Facility for his role in the crime.
After that, in 2009, Laquier Jackson was convicted of second-degree assault in Beltrami County for repeatedly stabbing a Cass Lake man in the chest and upper torso.
The criminal complaint against him in that case states that he stabbed his victim nine times, puncturing a lung, with one stab wound inflicted less than an inch from the victim’s heart.