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Emotional healing begins for Sergeant Jim Acklin, his attacker sentenced Monday

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-13 18:18:01-05

PORTAGE COUNTY, Ohio — While his physical scars are almost healed, the emotional healing is just beginning for Sergeant Jim Acklin and his family.

On February 14, 2019, Acklin was doused in flammable liquid and lit on fire by Jay Brannon while attempting to arrest him on a felony warrant.

Acklin faced his attacker in a Portage County court Monday, before Brannon was sentenced to 16 years behind bars.

Brannon accepted a plea deal earlier this month, in which he will serve 11 years in prison for aggravated attempted murder and five years for aggravated arson.

Josee Acklin, Sgt. Acklin’s wife, addressed Brannon while delivering her victim impact statement.

“My anger towards you lasted a very long time,” Josee Acklin said. “Overnight I went from being a wife and a mom to working full time to missing two months of work to become my husband’s nurse and caregiver.”

Brannon blamed his lengthy criminal history on drugs, alcohol and relationship troubles.

He said he was in a drug-induced state when he lit Jim Acklin on fire and that he was attempting to commit suicide during the incident.

Brannon added he hoped an officer would shoot him.

“No officer that night was meant to be hurt,” Brannon said, “My plan was to remove myself from the pain and the embarrassment I was living in.”

Judge Becky Doherty was not phased by Brannon’s emotional remarks.

“Mr. Brannon, you’re a coward,” Doherty said, “You’re a coward and I want you to look around this room and see bravery.”

She noted Brannon’s lengthy criminal history and told him he had multiple chances to clean up his act before critically injuring Acklin.

“So standing here telling me this was a suicide attempt after you had just recently gone to a gas station, gone to Giant Eagle, had been running around that day without a care in the world until police showed up,” Doherty said. “I’m not buying it.”

Acklin said he’s looking forward to moving on with his life after suffering second and third-degree burns over more than 20% of his body.

“I was trying to think about what was going to be said,” Acklin said, “And you know, everything being brought back up again.”

Brannon will receive 333 days of time served that will be subtracted from his 16-year sentence.

He will also be required to register as an arson offender and a violent offender when he’s released.