Mt. Vernon Register-News

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April 1, 2013

Convicted murderer walks

MT. VERNON — A Mt. Vernon woman was released from prison by Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday after serving just 27 years of her life sentence for her role in her husband’s murder in Jefferson County over 25 years ago.

Peggy Jo Jackson’s clemency was one of 87 the governor granted; another 135 were denied.

The 57-year-old Jackson reportedly was released from the Logan Correctional Center and headed to South Carolina, where she’ll live with family members and complete her parole.

Jackson, along with co-defendant and brother Richard Harshbarger, were convicted in 1987 by a Washington County jury and heard by Judge Lehman Krause after the trial was moved from Jefferson County, according to local officials. Harshbarger, who died several years ago in prison, was convicted of committing the murder when confronting Jackson’s husband, William, who reportedly abused Ms. Jackson. Peggy Jo, who was not present at the time, was convicted for not trying to prevent her brother from murdering her husband. Former State’s Attorney Kathleen Alling was the prosecutor in the case.

“I am highly disappointed in Gov. Quinn’s decision to grant this petition,” said Jefferson County State’s Attorney Doug Hoffman. “Last fall when the petition was before the Prisoner Review Board, I personally reviewed case files from 1986 when this happened and I prepared a written objection to the petition. I also provided the Board with a record of the trial record so they could understand the brutal and horrendous circumstances of this case and why my office felt the petition should be denied.”

According to information, William Jackson had been shot at the couple’s farmhouse in a rural area near Mt. Vernon. His body was placed in a car, which was set on fire and dumped in a creek off Illinois 15 near the Mt. Vernon Airport.

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