CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been 26 years since 9-year-old Jackie Beard was kidnapped, raped and murdered. After spending two decades behind bars, her killer’s death sentence has been overturned.
Jeannie Winchester remembers the day her daughter went outside their Clarksville, Tennessee home to pick blackberries in 1996. She warned Jackie not to talk to a suspicious man who had been hanging around their neighborhood, claiming to be an undercover officer.
“She said ‘I won’t.’ She said ‘cross my heart, hope to die.’ You know, kids say that not knowing what’s going to happen, I guess,” Winchester recalled.
That man was eventually identified as William Rogers.
Last week, a federal appeals court overturned his death sentence, agreeing he had ineffective counsel during his sentencing. The case was sent back down to the lower court.
“I know they have a job to do, and we want to make sure it’s done right, but it drags you down, it tears you apart. Nothing’s ever the same waiting for another shoe to fall so to speak with the justice system,” Winchester said.
Winchester said overturning Roger’s death penalty takes away the small bit of closure she felt in her daughter’s case.
“I want him to die. I want him to get the death sentence because that will show these monsters that Tennessee does not play with child molesters, child rapists and child murderers. If he gets the death sentence, it might make somebody think twice about doing this.”
Twenty-six years after Jackie’s death, her mom worries a re-sentencing hearing could open the door for the court to question or drop charges in her daughter’s case. She’s committed to fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“I want them to see me and know that somebody still cares about Jackie and about justice for Jackie. She deserves more than what she got. She deserves justice,” Winchester said.