After 38 years, a 62-year-old Texas man faced a jury for the first time this week for a 1971 murder of a gay man who picked him up in a seedy cruising area downtown San Diego and allegedly stabbed him 61 times in the victim’s Pacific Beach apartment.
Fingerprints and DNA evidence from discarded cigarette butts were saved in the apartment of Gerald Jackson, 27, and they led San Diego Police to arrest Gerald Dean Metcalf (pictured left) in August, 2008, in his home in Chandler, Texas, where he lived with his wife. Metcalf was 24 years old at the time of the slaying.
His attorney, David Lamb, told a San Diego Superior Court jury on Tuesday, Dec. 8, that “we’re not disputing the act” that killed Jackson and conceded that Metcalf had done it. But the issue is his state mind, Lamb said, who told jurors that Metcalf had been diagnosed with schizophrenia years ago. “This case is about the disease of the mind,” said Lamb, who said that Metcalf had rebuffed sexual advances from another homosexual in the past and that made him panic. “It was a perfect storm of terrible circumstances,” Lamb said, adding that Metcalf had been drinking alcohol all day.
Lamb is not pursuing an insanity defense, but is expected to argue that Metcalf lacked the intent to commit murder, and may suggest a lesser verdict of manslaughter at the end of the trial, as he did not specify a verdict he was seeking in his opening statement.
Deputy District Attorney Jill Schall said Jackson was stabbed at least 61 times in his bed on Dec. 29, 1971. Schall tried to paint a portrait of the time, saying Horton Plaza in 1971 “was not as nice as it is now.” She said Jackson worked at the Barbary Coast bar and met Metcalf around 2 a.m. and invited him home. Jackson was a Vietnam veteran, but did not tell his parents or siblings about being gay, said Schall, who said that was typical of the time for many gay people. “This was before gay pride parades,” Schall said.
When Jackson failed to show up for work at the post office, two friends came to his apartment on Jan. 2, 1972. One of them removed a window screen and was able to unlock the door. They were shocked to discover the grisly scene, and called police. Jackson was found without clothing on his bed.
Schall told jurors and Judge David Gill that Metcalf stole Jackson’s Ford Torino, a stereo receiver set that his father gave him for Christmas, and used Jackson’s identification when he pawned the stereo. Metcalf left a bloody palm print on the stereo, which was found by police. There was a bloody hand print to the light switch which was found on by his friends, who also told police they could hear Jackson’s alarm clock going off, Schall said.
A new witness has surfaced, the prosecutor told jurors, and it was a man named Eddie who was a friend of Metcalf and who had driven him from Texas to San Diego in 1971. They worked for Rohr Industries during a strike for six weeks, but were out of work in mid-Dec., 1971, she said, and they talked of what they could do. “Maybe I’ll roll a queer,” Metcalf was quoted as telling his friend, Schall said.
In 2008, a police intern compared the fingerprints of the killer with fingerprints from Texas on a data base and scored a hit.
Metcalf remains in the Vista Detention Facility on $1 million bail.
Story From: Gay Lesbian Times/San Diego