A twelve-person jury in Lexington County, South Carolina found 37-year-old Timothy Ray Jones Jr. guilty of five counts of first degree murder in connection with the August 2014 deaths of his five children.
It took the jurors approximately six hours and fifteen minutes to reach their verdict … now the same twelve people must return to hear additional testimony before determining Jones Jr.’s fate (more on that in a moment).
Jones Jr. had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but jurors concluded he knew exactly what he was doing when he killed his children in a mobile home in Red Bank, S.C. and embarked on a lengthy journey across the country prior to disposing of their bodies in garbage bags.
Stopped by police at a traffic checkpoint in Mississippi, Jones Jr. was bound for Las Vegas when he was apprehended.
Jones Jr. killed his six-year-old son, Nahtahn, by unknown means and then strangled his eight-year-old daughter Merah, seven-year-old son Elias, two-year-old son Gabriel and one-year-old daughter Elaine Marie on the evening of August 28, 2014.
The two oldest children he strangled with his bare hands. The two youngest were strangled with a belt.
Nearly two weeks after committing these heinous murders, Jones Jr. led police to a ravine off a secluded logging road near Oak Hill, Alabama. This is where he disposed of their bodies following a meandering, nine-day trek through five states.
Jones Jr.’s trial began on May 15 – and its gut-wrenching details have been covered extensively by statewide mainstream media outlets over the past three weeks.
Prosecutors are (rightfully) seeking the death penalty in this case, although as this news outlet has repeatedly pointed out capital punishment in South Carolina has been effectively terminated due to legislative inaction.
South Carolina hasn’t executed an inmate since May of 2011 because state’s Department of Corrections (SCDC) has been unable to purchase one of the drugs used to perform lethal injections. No American company manufactures the substance, and the European companies that produce it refuse to sell it in America owing to their opposition to capital punishment.
This new outlet has consistently called for harsher methods of execution to be employed in certain especially heinous cases – such as the Jones Jr. case or the brutal murder of 21-year-old University of South Carolina student Samantha Lee Josephson.
We have also called for executions to be carried out far more frequently so as to make the punishment an actual deterrent to crime.
“There’s no point having a debate over the efficacy of capital punishment if it is only going to be carried out once a year using the most genteel of methods,” we wrote in the fall of 2017 in an expansive piece on criminal justice reform. “There’s simply nothing to debate under these circumstances except that killing someone in America (has become) a ticket to stardom and ‘three hots and a cot’ for life courtesy of the taxpayers.”
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We are not the only ones who feel this way …
In other words, even if jurors were to decide that Jones Jr. should pay for these crimes with his life (which he absolutely should) it is highly unlikely that will ever happen – especially seeing as South Carolina lawmakers failed to address the state’s death penalty dysfunction prior to the commencement of his trial.
Actually, the outcome of this case could wind up being even worse than that …
During opening arguments in the Jones Jr. trial, deputy S.C. eleventh circuit deputy solicitor Shawn Graham allegedly broke into tears while addressing the jury. According to reporter John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, the veteran prosecutor “appear(ed) to start crying twelve minutes into his opening statement.”
In his coverage of the proceedings, Monk added that Graham “became choked up and appeared to start weeping as he talked about Jones’ children.”
Attorneys are supposed to control their emotions while presenting arguments to juries. Failure to do so could be grounds for an appeal.
Defense attorney Rob Madsen objected to Graham’s emotional outburst – and after jurors were excused from the courtroom he demanded a mistrial in the case.
His motion was denied by S.C. circuit court judge Eugene Griffith, who claimed he “didn’t see any tears” and concluded Graham was able to complete his presentation to the jury without becoming “shaky” again.
“Griffith’s basis for ruling against Madsen’s mistrial motion is problematic and exceedingly likely to draw an effective appellate challenge,” we noted at the time.
Our view on all of this?
Dispensing for a moment with these prosecutorial issues and the other particulars related to this case, the Jones Jr. trial has – from our vantage point, anyway – really been a trial of our criminal justice system.
Which, incidentally, is every bit as guilty as Jones Jr.
In the face of unspeakable evil, South Carolina continues to show inexcusable leniency – an enduring/ maddening manifestation of our increasingly unjust society.
Seriously … we are libertarians and on a daily basis we go out of our way to advocate for the rights of those accused of committing crimes (as well as the rights of those allegedly suffering from inhumane conditions inside Palmetto State prisons).
But cases like Jones Jr.’s lay out in painful, graphic detail the extent to which we are losing all conception of justice in this country – empowering evildoers among us and enabling future acts of insidiousness and inhumanity to take place.
When will it stop? No time soon, apparently …
What would happen to Jones, Jr. if it were up to us? Simple: Upon being found guilty by incontrovertible evidence (including but not limited to his own voluntary confession), we would have promptly sentenced him to death by strangulation. In fact, if the carrying out of such a sentence were left entirely up to us, we would have made sure Jones was strangled and revived at least five times before the job was finished … one time for each of his victims.
Only then would we have let him die …
Harsh? Yes. Unconstitutional? Probably …
But it would represent the closest thing to justice the state could administer to Jones Jr. on this side of the mortal coil. Unfortunately, though, we fully expect him to either win an appeal or enjoy taxpayer-funded accommodations for the duration of his stay on this planet.
Either outcome is a travesty, plain and simple …
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