Man gets 45 years for killing mother of his children, dumping her in Beaufort waters

sbowman@islandpacket.comAugust 2, 2013 

Kelvin Jackson, accused of the 2011 murder of Masako Yamaguchi Miller, consults with his attorney as his trial gets underway on Tuesday at the Beaufort County Courthouse. Jackson was found guilty Friday and sentenced to 45 yers without parole.

JAY KARR — Jay Karr Buy Photo

A Hampton man was sentenced Friday to 45 years in prison for killing the mother of his children in 2011 and dumping her in Beaufort waters.

Kelvin Jackson, 34, was found guilty of killing Masako Yamaguchi Miller, 34, of Hampton after a jury deliberated for about an hour and half, according to Deputy Solicitor Sean Thornton, who prosecuted the case.

Judge Maite Murphy sentenced Jackson to 45 years in prison without parole, Thornton said.

"I'm very pleased with the verdict and pleased for the family," Thornton said. "Jackson is a very dangerous man, and he deserves every day of the sentence the judge gave him."

Jackson's trial started Tuesday in the Beaufort County Courthouse. He is the father of two of Miller's three children.

Thornton said the victim and Jackson had a long, on-and-off relationship, in which he was very abusive. In the days before her murder, Miller took Jackson off their car insurance account, closed their joint bank account and opened an individual one.

It appears Miller was "cutting him out of her life completely this time, and Jackson felt disrespected," Thornton said.

Miller was last seen alive about 11 p.m. May 25, 2011, at her home on Middle Street in Hampton. Her body was found by a fisherman on the morning of May 30 on a mud flat near where Archers Creek meets the Broad River.

Miller was identified using dental records.

The arrest affidavit says that sometime between 12:30 and 5:30 a.m. May 26, Jackson killed Miller and disposed of her body in Beaufort County.

Thornton said there was a pillow found with Jackson's DNA on the edges and Miller's blood in the middle. He said it appears Jackson strangled Miller and smothered her with the pillow.

Jackson was arrested May 27 in Hampton and charged with misdemeanor financial transaction card fraud after investigators found him with one of Miller's credit cards. He was later charged with murder based on evidence gathered from witnesses, forensic analysis and video surveillance, according to the arrest affidavit.

Thornton said that evidence included the DNA at the crime scene, Jackson's use of Miller's credit card, and statements from Jackson that authorities were able to prove were lies.

One other critical piece of evidence, Thornton said, was a handwriting specialist's analysis of a note to Miller's children saying she was on a trip and would be back soon. The specialist determined the note was not written by the victim and that Jackson's handwriting was a very probable match.

The investigation was a joint effort between Hampton police, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division and sheriff's offices in Beaufort and Hampton counties.

Jackson's attorney, Virgin Johnson Jr., could not be reached for comment.

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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