Boyfriend of Jacks's Eldest Daughter Testifies About Last Time He Saw Her Alive

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 18, 2009

The last time Leepoy Kelly saw his girlfriend Brittany Jacks, she was standing in the front yard of her Southeast Washington rowhouse watching him walk towards the bus stop.

In a steady and calm voice yesterday, Kelly told a D.C. Superior Court judge that it had been about a month since he had seen Brittany at Booker T. Washington Charter School, where they were freshmen. So one morning in March 2007, he decided to check on her. Brittany didn't seem like herself. "She looked a little sad," he said, shaking his shoulder-length dreads out of his face.

Prosecutors called Kelly, now 17, to testify at the murder trial of Brittany's mother, Banita Jacks, to help establish when the eldest of Jacks's four daughters was last seen or heard from. Jacks was arrested Jan. 9 after federal marshals serving an eviction notice on her rowhouse on Sixth Street found the bodies of her daughters, ages 5, 6, 11 and 16, in two upstairs bedrooms. Authorities say they had been dead for about seven months.

Prosecutors say Jacks fatally stabbed Brittany and strangled and beat her younger sisters to death; Jacks says the girls died in their sleep. If convicted, she faces life in prison.

Kelly testified yesterday that Jacks opened the door when he visited, then called to Brittany inside the house. When Brittany emerged, Kelly said, he grabbed her and pulled her to him for a hug as he leaned against a railing on the front stoop.

Jacks kept the door cracked open, and Kelly remembered hearing Brittany's three little sisters playing inside the house. After about 15 minutes, Jacks told Brittany it was time for Kelly to leave. He testified that he hugged Brittany, told her he loved her and began walking down the street. As he looked back, he saw her watching him from her front yard. It was the last time he saw or spoke to the girl he often referred to as his "baby."

In the days and weeks after, Kelly testified, he tried calling Brittany on her cellphone. It was off. He tried contacting her through Brittany's MySpace account. No response.

Before the bodies were discovered, Jacks told school social workers who also visited the house around that time that she was home-schooling Brittany and her sisters.

Other prosecution witnesses yesterday were Jacks's former neighbors, who each testified that they had smelled a foul odor during summer 2007. Some suspected it was a dead rat.

About May 2007, they saw Jacks take all the furniture out of the house and put it in the back yard. She started losing weight and told one young neighbor, Darrius White, 17, that she had cancer. White testified that because his house shared a common wall with Jacks's home, he heard Brittany and Jacks arguing on the stairs one evening. White took food and water to Jacks's house in late 2007 but did not go into the house. Jacks took it in through her back door.

White testified that Jacks often came to his home to ask for water and cigarettes. Terilynn Louden, another neighbor, testified that Jacks took Louden's young daughter along with her own children to McDonald's in March 2007. Louden said Jacks's girls were always "clean and their hair was always done" in barrettes and tiny braids.

A month later, when she saw Jacks's youngest children again, they were wearing white T-shirts and "white rags" on their heads. Louden testified that she bought juice for Jacks at a nearby grocery store and gave her cigarettes. Jacks told Louden that her food stamps had run out but that she didn't wanted to apply for more because of all the paper work, Louden testified.

The trial will resume Monday.

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