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Attorneys ask court to reduce sentence of man convicted of killing mother

Attorneys for a Charlottesville man convicted of killing his mother are asking the court to reduce his sentence.

In January, Maurice Robert Jackson received a four and a half year sentence for voluntary manslaughter in the death of his mother, Barbara Cotton. In an unusual move, the sentence imposed by Judge Claude Worrell exceeded what both the defense and commonwealth requested.

Though initially charged with second degree murder and two counts of assault and battery against a police officer, Jackson accepted an agreement in September to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and one count of assault and battery against a police officer.

During his sentencing hearing in Albemarle County Circuit Court, Jackson testified that he had been staying with Cotton following his divorce and was helping her as she battled cancer. It was during this time that he developed a drinking problem which led to altercations between him and his mother, who was concerned his drinking would cause him to be unable to take her to the hospital if the need arose.

On the night of Nov. 13, 2019, Jackson and his mother got in an argument about his drinking. As his mother stood in front of the refrigerator, Jackson, who was highly intoxicated, said he “nudged” her out of the way. Cotton, whose cancer had made her bones brittle, hit the corner of a counter hard enough to be injured, he said.

After dialing 911, an intoxicated Jackson was separated from his mother by police and got into a tussle with an officer when they would not let him see his mother. Cotton died from the injuries she suffered two weeks later on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving.

Both the defense and the commonwealth recommended a sentence on the low-end of the guidelines — around three years — citing the complicated and tragic nature of the incident.

However, Worrell sentenced Jackson to four years and six months, citing in part a letter from one of Cotton’s relatives.

Last month, Jackson’s attorneys filed a motion to reconsider the sentence, citing a portion of state code that allows a court to modify a convicted person’s sentence.

Per this code section, a sentence can be modified if a person has been sentenced for a felony to the Department of Corrections but has not actually been transferred to a receiving unit of the Department. In these situations, the court which heard the case can modify or suspend the sentence if it “appears compatible with the public interest and there are circumstances of mitigation of the offense.”

“In light of additional information from the family of the victim, Ms. Barbara Cotton, and in light of additional information regarding substance abuse treatment placement, Mr. Jackson respectfully requests this court reconsider the sentence imposed and set a hearing to address the matter,” the motion reads.

The commonwealth has yet to respond to the motion and a hearing initially set for Wednesday has been continued to an unset date.


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