Ex-U.S. Postal Service mail carrier helped carry out killing of workplace rival’s husband, jury rules

A former U.S. Postal Service mail carrier was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting of another carrier’s husband — a killing that stemmed from a long-running feud between two female postal workers.

After a three-day trial last week, a jury in Newport News Circuit Court deliberated for less than an hour before finding Tashara Mone Jackson, 31, guilty in the April 2021 slaying of Salahud-Din Ibn “Sal” Shabazz.

Shabazz — lone among the group in not working for the Postal Service — was shot and killed just after 2 a.m. April 7 in the front doorway of his Menchville area home.

Prosecutors said Jackson wasn’t the shooter, but enlisted another Postal Service carrier, Jeremy Todd Pettway, 41, to go with her to the Shabazz household early that morning.

Jackson’s conviction follows last year’s mistrial in the case against Pettway.

The slaying, prosecutors asserted, stemmed from a long-running feud Jackson had with Shabazz’s wife, mail carrier Jacqueline “Jacquie” Shabazz.

There were several workplace issues between the two women, with Jacquie Shabazz acknowledging on the stand at trial that she had been having an extramarital relationship with another Postal Service mail carrier whose wife was close friends with Jackson.

A string of incidents between the two women escalated in March 2021, when Jackson and Jacquie Shabazz exchanged words outside a Newport News nail salon. Shabazz admitted to slashing Jackson’s tires as she was getting her nails done.

A few days later, Jacquie Shabazz’s vehicle was vandalized in her driveway when the family was out of town. Her SUV was spray-painted, its tires slashed, and an object stuffed into the gas tank.

When the Shabazzes came home, they learned Jackson would attend a party at Harpoon Larry’s restaurant on April 6, and went to confront her. Witnesses said Sal Shabazz pointed a Taser at others to keep them at bay while his wife and Jackson fought in the parking lot. Jackson would tell police later that Sal Shabazz also kicked her during the altercation.

Following the fight, Jacquie Shabazz and the couple’s four daughters went to a York County motel for the night for their safety. Sal Shabazz — who was intoxicated at the time ― decided to stay home.

Jacquie Shabazz testified she was talking on the phone with her husband when he got a knock on the door about 2 a.m. When he went to answer, she said, she heard a brief exchange, followed by gunfire.

Shabazz was found dead just inside his front door, with four cartridge casings found on the floor nearby.

His family said he was a U.S. Army veteran who worked as a forklift operator at a local warehouse. He was the father of four daughters with Jacquie Shabazz, and has an older son in Indiana from a prior relationship.

At last week’s trial, Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrea Booden and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jacqueline Donner contended that Jackson had picked up Pettway, then drove to the Shabazzes’ home to retaliate for the restaurant fight.

Police detective Trevor Buchanan showed the jury an extensive video presentation in which he superimposed cellphone tracking data from Jackson’s and Pettway’s phones onto a satellite map.

The tracking data showed the two phones came together near Pettway’s home. Video surveillance from traffic cameras in the area showed what appears to be Jackson’s SUV on Jefferson Avenue, headed in the direction of Menchville.

Buchanan combined that with Ring home security footage that shows a shadowy figure leaving the SUV and walking toward the Shabazzes’ house. The SUV then fled the area with its lights out.

Pettway’s and Jackson’s cellphones lost network connection at the same time, with prosecutors saying they turned them off to cover their tracks.

In the days following the shooting, Jackson texted Pettway that he “was there” for her when no one else was, and “you didn’t hesitate.” When he texted back that he was “the protector,” Jackson replied they were “Bonnie and Clyde forever.”

Pettway later texted Jackson that police had searched his house but didn’t find his gun. He said he “got rid of it” by giving it to a female mail carrier friend. Police later found the handgun under that woman’s bed.

Prosecutors said Jackson, not Pettway, had issues with the Shabazzes, and that she was clearly involved in the crime.

“Those text messages showed that she knew what had happened, that she knew what was going to happen, and was fully participating in it,” Booden said.

It was significant, the prosecutor said, that Jackson referred to herself and Pettway as “Bonnie and Clyde” ― the infamous criminal couple that committed robberies and killed several police officers and others during the Great Depression.

“We are criminal actors together,” Booden said the reference meant. “We’re doing this together.”

But Jackson’s attorney, Timothy Clancy, said his client was an “accessory after the fact” — helping Pettway get away — but that she wasn’t involved in the slaying.

“Where’s the evidence that my client agreed ahead of time that Pettway was going to have a weapon and go out and kill Sal Shabazz?” Clancy said he asked the jury. “Isn’t it just as likely they were going out to vandalize the car again?”

Though Pettway clearly carried out the killing, Clancy said, all Jackson did was help him afterward. “That’s accessory after the fact,” he said.

But the 12-member jury sided with the prosecution — taking only 50 minutes to find Jackson guilty on the first-degree murder and murder conspiracy counts. She faces up to life in prison at her sentencing in June.

A trial against Pettway in November — featuring much of the same evidence — ended in a hung jury on the murder and gun charges, though he was found guilty of conspiracy. He has a new trial slated for early April.

Peter Dujardin, 757-247-4749, pdujardin@dailypress.com