Noura Jackson spent more than 10 years in prison for the murder of her mother, Jennifer Jackson. She maintained her innocence from the beginning, and in August 2016, her conviction was overturned and she was released from custody.
Now free, Noura will speak to ABC News’ 20/20 tonight about her experience in prison, and what it is like to live life a free woman after spending so many years behind bars.
1. Her Mother Was Stabbed 50 Times
On June 4, 2005, the day of her mother’s murder, Noura claims she got her nails done and then went out to party in the evening. According to ABC News, she told police she went to an Italian festival before spending the night at friends’ parties. Noura admits that while she was out, she drank alcohol and smoked marijuana.
Authorities believe Jennifer Jackson was murdered between the hours of 1 am and 4 am on June 5.
Just before 1 am, Noura went to a gas station to buy cigarettes. She then claims she went to a friends house, and bought gas at 4:20 am before going home. ABC reports, “A security camera recorded Jackson at 4 a.m., purchasing first aid supplies and asking for a paper towel to clean blood off a cut on her hand.”
Noura says that when first she entered her home, she found her mother’s bedroom door open. Upon entering, she saw her mother naked on the floor, covered in blood. Noura ran across the street to seek help from a neighbor, and then called 911.
Speaking to CBS about seeing her mother’s body, Noura said, “There was blood everywhere. I guess that’s basically the thing that sticks with me… I guess the only thing that was on my mind was that I needed help.”
2. Her Aunt Was a Witness for the Prosecution
Noura was arrested on September 29, 2005, and charged with first-degree murder for her mother’s death. By this point, she had spoken to the police multiple times. Her trial began on February 9, 2009. On February 21, Noura was found guilty of second-degree murder. Her conviction was thrown out on August 22, 2014.
Cindy Eidson, Jennifer Jackson’s sister and one of Noura’s aunts, was a witness for the prosecution during the trial. She testified, “I had a lot of conversations with Jennifer and the problems that she was having… Jennifer said [to Noura], ‘You can either go to boarding school or move out. I’m sick of it. You’re 18 years old and you’re still in 11th grade, and partying all the time, and you’ve got – and I’ve just had it.’”
Noura’s friends also seemed to paint her in a negative light. Kirby McDonald, Noura’s friend, testified that she heard the 18-year-old curse her mother at a party just hours before Jennifer was killed. “Noura said, ‘My Mom’s a bitch and she needs to go to hell.’”
3. Noura’s Father Was Murdered 15 Months Before Her Mother
On January 26, 2004, Noura’s father, Nazmi Hassaneigh, was shot and killed at the gas station/convenience store he owned. At the time, Nazmi was divorced from Jennifer Jackson. Surveillance tape from inside the store shows the killer entering his convenience store around 10pm. He took cash from the register, and entered the office, leaving with what he thought was the surveillance tape.
To this day, Hassanieh’s murder remains unsolved. Recent court documents obtained by LocalMemphis.com suggest that his murder could be connected to the fact that he helped police take down a Mexican drug cartel.
Though some people have speculated a possible connection between the deaths of Noura’s mother and father, Lt. Mullins of the Memphis Police Department claims, “there is no link between the two except Noura being the child of the two of them.”
4. She Got Her GED in Prison and Is Applying to College
According to ABC News, Noura received her GED in prison and is now applying to colleges. Since being released, she has lived with a family friend, Ansley Larsson, because her mother’s family does not support her.
5. Noura’s DNA Was Not Found at the Crime Scene
Noura’s fingerprints were not found at the scene of the crime– a point which defense attorney Valerie Corder highlighted in trial. When the prosecution called a DNA expert to the stand, Valerie questioned whether she found Noura Jackson’s DNA on pillows, pillow cases, sheets, or light switch. The expert simply responded: “No, I did not.”
There was, however, another person’s DNA at the crime scene. Speaking to CBS News last year, Sgt. W.D. Merritt, said: “We know there was some unknown DNA that was on a bed sheet. It could have been skin. It could have been sweat.” Police never found out who the DNA belonged to. All they knew was that it did not belong to Jennifer or Noura.