Woman who killed Navy special operator by running him over in fit of rage pleads guilty

Left: Jackson pictured in a photo posted on her Facebook account, which has since been removed. Right: A screenshot of a witness video shows the moments leading up to when Jackson was aggressively tailgating Buob.

Darla Renee Jackson, the woman accused of intentionally running down Navy Chief Petty Officer Zach Buob, plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter Tuesday during a court hearing in Chula Vista, California.

Jackson  apparently attempted to sideswipe Buob’s Ducati motorcycle, but instead ended up rear-ending it and running both the bike and Buob over in a fit of rage.  The incident occurred on State Route 54 in the San Diego area.

But according to a domestic violence report and restraining order filed against Jackson by an ex-boyfriend in 2012, she has a history of violence.  “I began to walk away and the Respondent (Jackson) told me, ‘I’m going to run your b**cha** over with my car,'” the document reads.

Buob’s mangled Ducati motorcycle lays behind Jackson’s Nissan Altima.

Chief Petty Officer Buob, 39, was serving in the Navy under the special operations command and had completed multiple combat tours overseas during his more than 20 years of service.

According to a story published by ABC 10 News, Jackson, 26, changed her plea after the charge was reduced from second-degree murder. She now faces up to 11 years in prison.

For unknown reasons, Jackson and Buob had a back-and-forth altercation that escalated. Jackson chased Buob onto the 54 freeway and struck him, then ran him over.

Buob was transported to the hospital and was later pronounced dead.

Chief Petty Officer Zach Buob
Chief Petty Officer Zach Buob

In a story published in 2015 by ABC 10 News following her bail hearing; Jackson’s defense attorney said his client is remorseful for her actions.

“She’s very upset, obviously,” said defense attorney Stephen Cline. “She’s 25 years old, she’s got a 3 1/2-year-old child at home and she’s charged with murder. I think that’s a pretty heavy duty thing to swallow.”

Cline said Jackson told him that Buob sped by her on his motorcycle, he got mad about something, he kicked her car, and she chased after him and they collided at the end when they ran into traffic.

“She’s very sorry, she’s very scared, she’s very upset, she’s very traumatized,” Cline told reporters.

One of Buob’s friends told NBC 7, “Buob worked as an elite special boat operator, but motorcycles and trucks were his passion — only overshadowed by his love for family and friends.”

The victim’s mother shared memories of her son with News 7 San Diego, saying Buob had a great sense of humor and could always make people laugh.

“He had a quick wit, fun personality and was so friendly that it was hard not to be his friend. He had a great laugh that you could hear as he enjoyed life,” said Kathy Buob, fondly remembering her son.

Jackson’s bail was initially set at $1 million and she was facing 15 years to life. The plea deal reduces the time she can spend in jail. Sentencing for Jackson will be held April 14 at 1:30 p.m. at the South Bay Courthouse.

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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