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Timothy Jones Sentenced To Die … But South Carolina Can’t Carry Out Punishment

“A death sentence with no death is not justice … it is a joke.”

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A jury in Lexington County, South Carolina sentenced convicted child killer Timothy Ray Jones Jr. to death on Thursday – but the Palmetto State cannot carry out the punishment.

South Carolina hasn’t executed an inmate since May of 2011 because state’s Department of Corrections (SCDC) is 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 because they oppose capital punishment.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers failed to amend South Carolina’s capital punishment laws to provide for alternative methods of executing inmates – meaning that unless a condemned murderer chooses electrocution, death sentences are no longer carried out in this state.

As a result, Jones Jr. – who murdered his five children in a mobile home in Red Bank, S.C. on August 28, 2014 – will likely wind up receiving taxpayer-funded accommodations for the rest of his life.

Is that justice? Hell no …

“In the face of unspeakable evil, South Carolina continues to show inexcusable leniency – an enduring/ maddening manifestation of our increasingly unjust society,” we wrote last week in relation to this case.

Jones Jr.’s trial began on May 15, and its gut-wrenching details received daily coverage from statewide mainstream media outlets over the past month.

Jurors found him guilty of the murders in six hours, and took less than two hours to determine he should die for those crimes.

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. The two oldest children he strangled with his bare hands. The two youngest were strangled with a belt.

After the murders, Jones Jr. embarked on a lengthy journey across the country prior to disposing of their bodies in garbage bags off a secluded logging road near Oak Hill, Alabama. Shortly thereafter he was stopped by police at a traffic checkpoint in Mississippi – allegedly high on drugs and bound for Las Vegas, Nevada.

“These five little babies finally got justice,” S.C. eleventh circuit solicitor Rick Hubbard said when the death sentence was announced.

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Again … no.

This is not justice. Or anything in the vicinity of it.

A death sentence with no death is not justice. It is a joke.

“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.”

This new outlet has consistently called for harsher methods of execution to be employed in 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.

“Let the punishment fit the crime,” Hubbard told jurors in urging them to hand down a death sentence to Jones Jr.

We agree … but the punishment does not fit the crime in this case. Or even come close to the crime.

In addition to urging lawmakers to allow for multiple methods of execution, we have also called for capital punishment to be carried out far more frequently so as to make it an actual deterrent to crime.

Not everyone agrees with us, though.

“There’s nothing ‘tough’ about the death penalty,” Myrtle Beach, S.C. editorial writer Issac Bailey tweeted. “It shows our moral weakness and indifference to suffering and justice.”

Speaking of weakness, 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.

Madsen’s 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.

We do not think it is enough to overturn the guilty verdict against Jones Jr., but it will likely bolster the appeal of the “death sentence” he received.

Technically, Jones Jr. is supposed to be put to death on November 30, 2019.

“But that won’t happen,” reporter Seanna Adcox of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier reported.

Indeed it won’t … which is the problem.

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