A Prince William County man convicted of murder seven months ago has spent only three days in jail thanks to a hip injury the judge considered too costly and difficult for the state to correct.
David Junior Jacobson, 47, who pleaded guilty to the Aug. 19, 1977, shooting of a Manassas man, is still awaiting sentencing following a series of postponements for hip surgery granted by Circuit Court Judge Percy Thornton.
Those who testified against Jacobson or who were friends of Michael Polovitch, the murder victim, say they live in fear and are outraged that the convicted murderer is not yet behind bars.
"I just associate his face with fear," said Anna P. Price a Manassa woman who had dated Polovitch, the man Jacobson killed. "We keep our doors and windows locked at all times because of him. We try not to take any chances."
Jacobson has been "floating from one friend to another" in the Prince William area, according to his probation officer, James Devine, who last week said he did not know where Jacobson was living.
Repeated attempts to reach Jacobson were unsuccessful. His attorney, J. Edward Flournoy, declined to comment on his client's case or his whereabouts, except to say Jacobson "gave me some places he may be."
A senior official of the State Crime Commission said yesterday he considers the seven-month delay "extraordinary," and said the average time between trial and sentencing is about two months.
Jacobson has gone to Minnesota's Mayo Clinic for hip surgery twice since the shooting 14 months ago, accoridng to court records. Though he was hospitalized only a few weeks, he has been out of state a total of nearly eight months, Devine said.
Jacobson had been suffering from bone deterioration in both hips and had an artificial joint inserted surgically, according to medical records in his court file.
During the trial, Judge Thornton said he felt Jacobson could not receive the medical attention he needed while in prison and that it was senseless to burden Virginia's taxpayers with the expense of Jacobson's surgery.
The average cost for the surgical operation Jacobson underwent together with the cost of hospitalization is about $5,500, according to the business office of the Mayo Clinic.
Judge Thornton said in a telephone interview that he is confident Jacobson will not jump bond. "His grass roots were pretty strong in Prince William County. I didn't have any fear of his not appearing," Thornton said.
"This man isn't going to escape to China," said Thornton, who called Jacobson's shooting of Polovitch "out of character." He said he would not have let Jacobson out of jail for treatment had he considered him a "threat to the community."
A report by a state alcoholism counselor, part of the court file, said Jacobson "has been involved in combined alcohol and drug abuse since 1951," and recommended that he receive "intensive in-patient treatment."
But Davine said Jacobson had a generally good name in the community, had worked as a hospital maintenance man and had participated in boy scout activities in the past.
Jacobson originally was charged with first degree murder. The charge was later reduced to second degree after he agreed to plead guilty, accoring to Commonwealth Attorney Paul Ebert.
Following the March 14 conviction, Ebert said he asked the court for a high bond because Jacobson had threatened to kill Rex Case, a man who had dated his fiance. The court set bond at $25,000, a figure Ebert said he considered too low.
Anna Price said in court testimony that she had been in Polovitch's Manassas trailer home when Jacobson entered the trailer in a rage. She said she was telephoning the police when she heard a shot and Polovitch fell to the floor.
"I've been searching myself for forgiveness because I'm a Christian person, but I'll feel a little easier when he's locked up," she told an interviewer last week.
According to Ebert, Rex Case also was distressed to learn that Jacobson was out of jail and changed his place of residence for a time, afraid that Jacobson would make good his threat.
Jacobson's former fiance, Elizabeth Rebecca Bragg, told a reporter she has dated no one since the shooting, and said men are afraid to associate with her. She said she has discovered Jacobson spying on her and that he has telephoned her and accused her of seeing other men.
"I feel like I'm the one serving the term instead of him," said Bragg.
Jacobson is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Oct. 20. At his last court appearance in March, Judge Thornton reportedly told Jacobson to "bring a toothbrush" the next time he came to court.