Columbus mother told cousin she was pregnant before going missing, family says at sentencing

Malcolm Jamaine Jackson’s composure finally cracked.

After acting as his own attorney during a weeklong trial, the estranged boyfriend convicted of assaulting and stalking missing Columbus mother of three Ebony Giddens was proclaiming his innocence during his sentencing hearing Friday when he began to sob, laying his head on the defense table in Judge Arthur Smith III’s Government Center courtroom.

“Just because I was found guilty does not mean that I am guilty of any of these charges,” he had told Smith. “Not once have I ever abused one woman, physically or verbally, in my life.”

So he has not harmed Giddens, he insisted: “I’m not sure exactly how to speak on the disappearance of Miss Ebony Giddens, your honor, because like I stated before, I am innocent, and I can prove it, and I will prove it.”

Jackson was tried on charges of aggravated assault, aggravated stalking and using a gun to commit a crime. A jury of eight women and four men convicted him on all three counts Thursday, before Smith set his sentencing for Friday morning, when Jackson told the judge he would like to have an attorney appointed to represent him on his appeals.

Smith gave Jackson the maximum penalty on each count — 20 years for aggravated assault, 10 for aggravated stalking, and five for using a gun to commit a felony — and ordered him to serve the full time. Jackson now is 30 years old.

He won’t start serving that sentence until November 2022, because he was on probation when he was charged in the assault on Giddens, having previous convictions for burglary. His probation was revoked, and he must serve out the revocation before starting his new prison sentence.

Testimony at his sentencing hearing included some startling revelations.

Chernda Pendleton, who Thursday identified herself as Giddens’ aunt but on Friday said the two actually are cousins, testified that she visited Giddens’ Montclair Drive apartment on the afternoon of March 9, 2018, when Giddens was helping load Jackson’s belongings into his truck, because she was kicking him out.

Giddens pulled Pendleton aside, and told her a secret, the cousin said: “Ebony told me she was pregnant, and the child was Mr. Jackson’s child…. If she’s out there right now, she has a child.”

Giddens told her that around 2:45 p.m., Pendleton said. That would have been about eight hours before Jackson in a jealous rage put a gun to Giddens’ ear and threatened to blow it off.

That night police arrested him for simple assault involving family violence. He was ordered to have no contact with Giddens when he got out of jail, but he called and texted her repeatedly over the next two days, before she disappeared March 12, 2018, when her family found her two youngest sons, ages 2 and 6, alone in her apartment.

When officers learned Jackson had threatened her with a gun and contacted her in violation of court orders, they charged him with the three felonies on which the jury convicted him.

Another revelation from Friday’s hearing was Jackson’s alibi for the night of March 11, when Giddens’ family last heard from her. Two cousins who talked to her during a three-way phone call that night said she was giving them one-word answers to their questions and refusing to say Jackson pointed a gun at her.

They suspected Jackson was in the room with her, listening.

Jackson said he could not have been at Giddens’ home, because he and another woman were making a homemade pornographic video on his cell phone, and the recording still was on it.

Some listening in the courtroom had to check with others to be sure they heard him correctly.

Others addressing the court Friday included Roderick Daniel, the father of the two boys found alone in Giddens’ home the morning she vanished.

He said his oldest son, now 7, was traumatized by what he witnessed: He saw Jackson grab his mother by the neck and press her against a wall, Daniel said. On the night of March 11, 2018, the boy heard commotion in another room in Giddens’ apartment, before he fell asleep. When he awoke, his mother was gone, and he has felt that loss intensely ever since, needing therapy to deal with his emotions, Daniel said.

Jackson denied putting a gun to Giddens’ head. He said he had set the gun on a bed, with his hand on it. “I did inform her that I did not want to use the weapon,” he said.

Giddens’ family said Jackson was obsessed with the relationship between Giddens and Daniel, who remained cordial with each other after they broke up, eager to help each other raise their two boys. Giddens’ oldest son was by another father.

Jackson continued to focus on Daniel during his sentencing hearing, alleging Daniel pushed Giddens to have Jackson arrested.

“There is evidence that Ebony would do anything that Roderick Daniel asked her to do,” Jackson said.

Giddens’ family has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to her location. Anyone with tips may call Columbus police at 706-653-3400.

Tim Chitwood is from Seale, Ala., and started as a police beat reporter with the Ledger-Enquirer in 1982. He since has covered Columbus’ serial killings and other homicides, following some from the scene of the crime to trial verdicts and ensuing appeals. He also has been a Ledger-Enquirer humor columnist since 1987. He’s a graduate of Auburn University, and started out working for the weekly Phenix Citizen in Phenix City, Ala.