James Wesley Jackson (credit: Tarrant County District Attorney's Office)

James Wesley Jackson (credit: Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A 43-year-old man was sentenced to life behind bars for strangling a mentally challenged woman in her Fort Worth apartment. James Wesley Jackson was convicted Friday of killing Jo Beth Marchand on December 2, 2011.

Two of the victim’s friends went to her apartment after being unable to contact her in other ways. Once there, they found her home to be a mess, and discovered the 52-year-old woman’s body wrapped in a blanket inside of her bedroom closet.

An autopsy revealed that Marchand had been strangled with a cord or tie. She had numerous bruises to her face and head, a crushed larynx, broken nose and genital trauma.

The case was left unsolved for months before detectives were able to link Jackson to both fingerprints found at the scene and DNA recovered from a blood-stained couch cushion and hair on the blanket.

After his arrest, Jackson gave conflicting accounts of what he claimed happened inside of the apartment. He first denied ever seeing the victim, but later admitted to being inside of the home twice after finding the door left open. He told authorities that he stole a few items and watched television before discovering the victim’s body. He then got scared and ran away from the scene.

In a third story, Jackson said that he was robbing the apartment when Marchand came home and found him inside. She walked up behind him and kissed him, he claimed. They engaged in intimate relations, he said, but then she would not let him leave. As the woman tried to block his way to the door, she became tangled in a phone charging cord, Jackson said, and fell to the ground. Jackson said that he used the cord to drag the victim’s body into the closet.

Jurors did not believe Jackson’s stories and convicted him of murder after deliberating for just over an hour. Because prosecutors waived the death penalty, Jackson was given an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole.

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