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Stephanie Jackson pleads not guilty to felony murder charges

Case set for trial in August 2019

By Cayla Vidmar

Stephanie Jackson, the sister of Jacob Millison who was murdered in 2015, has entered a plea of not guilty to nine felony charges, including the first degree murder of her brother. A four-week jury trial has been scheduled to begin August 19, 2019.

District Court Judge Steven Patrick determined in early November that there was probable cause to hold a trial in the case of Stephanie Jackson, who has been charged with nine felonies and two misdemeanors in the murder of her brother at a Gunnison County ranch in 2015.

Stephanie has been charged with murder in the first degree; two counts of tampering with a deceased human body; five counts of accessory to a crime; one count of tampering with physical evidence; and two misdemeanors, concealing death and abuse of a corpse.

The details of the case, heard during the preliminary hearing in November, spanned from 2009 through the summer of 2017, when Jacob Millison’s remains were discovered buried at his mother’s ranch near Parlin, east of Gunnison, as previously reported by the Crested Butte News.

During the preliminary hearing, prosecutor Jessica Waggoner argued that Stephanie encouraged or influenced her mother, Deborah Rudibaugh, to murder Rudibaugh’s son, Jacob. Two week’s prior to the murder, Deborah had amended her will, leaving the sprawling 700-acre ranch east of Parlin solely to Stephanie. Rudibaugh’s will previously left the ranch to Jacob and his step-brother, Shane Rudibaugh, according to the investigation.

During a plea hearing on Tuesday, December 4, Stephanie pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the case will proceed to a four-week jury trial in August 2019. When asked by Judge Patrick if she was offered a plea deal by prosecution, she stated “Yes, they’ve discussed offers with me and I have rejected the offer.”

Stephanie is also involved in two other Gunnison District Court cases, one in which she is accused of tampering with a witness or victim. The charge alleges that between May 15, 2018 and May 31, 2018, Stephanie unlawfully and intentionally attempted to induce her husband, David Jackson, a witness in an official proceeding, to testify falsely or unlawfully withhold testimony, according to the District Attorney’s office. This case is set for a preliminary hearing on December 28 at 1:30 p.m.

In her third district court case, Stephanie is accused of four charges, including felony menacing, and three misdemeanors, which include prohibited use of a weapon and two counts of reckless endangerment, which allegedly occurred on January 1, 2016. This case is set for jury trial beginning on January 7, 2019.

Jacob and Stephanie’s mother, Deborah, confessed to shooting Jacob in the head while he slept, and disposing of his body in a manure pile at the ranch where she and Jacob lived. Deborah claims she acted alone in murdering her son, and transporting his 170-pound body using “Yankee ingenuity and my knowledge of physics and chemistry and stuff to do it,” according to Deborah. At the time of Jacob’s murder, Deborah was recovering from gall bladder surgery and weighed 97 pounds, according to medical records.

Deborah has been charged with first-degree murder; tampering with a deceased human body; concealing death; and abuse of a corpse. Deborah waived her right to a preliminary hearing and is set for a plea hearing this Friday, December 7 at 8:30 a.m.

David Jackson, Stephanie’s husband, also appeared in court this week for a status conference regarding his case, in which he pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a deceased human body, a felony charge. His sentencing for this charge will be postponed until after Stephanie’s jury trial for murder is concluded in September 2019.

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