Jury sentences father to death for killing his 5 children

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina father was sentenced to death Thursday for killing his five children with his own hands. After they were dead, he drove around with their bodies for nine days before dumping them in garbage bags on the side of an Alabama dirt road.

Timothy Jones Jr. showed no emotion as the jury delivered the verdict after less than two hours of deliberation. They also could have sentenced him to life without parole.

The same Lexington County jury convicted Jones of five counts of murder last week in the deaths of his children, ages 1 to 8, in their Lexington home in August 2014.

Prosecutors pushed for a death sentence. Solicitor Rock Hubbard told jurors in his closing argument earlier Thursday that if any jurors had doubts whether Jones deserved the death penalty, all they had to do is consider the five garbage bags where he dumped their bodies in rural Alabama.

But a lawyer for Jones told jurors they alone could show mercy — if not for a father who killed five kids with his own hands, then for a family that has seen so much death and still wants to love Jones, even through prison bars.

Jones' father hung his head in his hands as the verdict was read and other family members appeared to cry.

Jones is just the second person to be sent to South Carolina's death row in five years. The state has not executed anyone since 2011 and lacks the drugs to carry out lethal injection.

9 PHOTOS
Trial of convicted murderer Timothy Jones Jr.
See Gallery
Trial of convicted murderer Timothy Jones Jr.
Tim Jones' grandmother, Roberta Thornsberry, wipes here eyes while testifying during the sentencing phase of the trial of Tim Jones, Jr. in Lexington, S.C., Monday, June 10, 2019. Timothy Jones, Jr. was found guilty of killing his 5 young children in 2014. (Tracy Glantz/The State via AP, Pool)
Tim Jones, Jr. wipes his eyes while hearing his grandmother testify during the sentencing phase of his trial in Lexington, S.C., Monday, June 10, 2019. Timothy Jones, Jr. was found guilty of killing his 5 young children in 2014. (Tracy Glantz/The State via AP, Pool)
Tim Jones, Sr., listens to testimony during the sentencing phase of the trial of his son, Tim Jones, Jr. in Lexington, S.C., Monday, June 10, 2019. Timothy Jones, Jr. was found guilty of killing his 5 young children in 2014. (Tracy Glantz/The State via AP, Pool)
CORRECTS THE CITY TO LEXINGTON - Timothy Jones Jr. stands with his attorney Boyd Young at court in Lexington, S.C., Tuesday, June 4, 2019, after being found guilty in the deaths of his five children in 2014. A jury convicted the South Carolina father of murder Tuesday in the deaths of his children, allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty. (Tracy Glantz/The State via AP)
Defense attorney Casey Secor talks with Tim Jones during trial in Lexington, S.C. Timothy Jones, Jr., is accused of killing his five children in 2014. Jones, who faces the death penalty, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. (Tracy Glantz/The State via AP, Pool)
In this Monday, June 3, 2019 photo, 11th Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard holds up a photo of Timothy Jones Jr.'s son Nahtahn, 6, while giving the state's closing argument during the murder trial of Jones at the Lexington County Courthouse, in Lexington, Ky. Jurors are again deliberating whether the South Carolina father is guilty of murder in the deaths of his five children. (Jeff Blake/The State via AP, Pool)
In this Monday, June 3, 2019 photo, Defense attorney Boyd Jones talks to the jury during his closing statement in the murder trial of Timothy Jones Jr. at the Lexington County Courthouse, in Lexington, Ky. Jurors are again deliberating whether the South Carolina father is guilty of murder in the deaths of his five children. (Jeff Blake/The State via AP, Pool)
Amber Jones cries from the witness stand while being questioned by 11th Circuit deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes during the trial of her ex husband, Tim Jones, Columbia S.C., Monday, May 20, 2019. Timothy Jones, Jr. is accused of killing their 5 young children in 2014. Jones, who faces the death penalty, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. (Tracy Glantz/The State via AP, Pool)
A letter that Amber Kyzer wrote her daughter, Merah, in March of 2014 is shown in evidence during the trail of Tim Jones in Lexington. Kyzer broke down while trying to read the letter in court. Timothy Jones, Jr. is accused of killing his 5 young children in 2014. (Tracy Glantz/The State via AP)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Hubbard began his closing argument by asking if the jurors had ever heard of a crime more horrendous than what they had listened to over four weeks of testimony.

Jones, 37, has been selfish all his life, trying to break up his father's second marriage because he wasn't getting enough attention and controlling his wife's every decision, Hubbard said.

When his wife left him, Hubbard said, Jones couldn't stand that his control was over. With custody of his children, the computer engineer with an $80,000-a-year job mistreated any of them who showed any intention of wanting to be with their mother instead of him, Hubbard said.

Jones first killed 6-year-old son Nahtahn in a "white hot rage" after the boy confessed on the phone to his mother — but not to his father — to breaking an electrical outlet, Hubbard said.

Over the next several hours, Jones went and got cigarettes, taking his oldest daughter so she wouldn't call for help, and leaving the three other kids with their brother's body.

Then he made a decision, just like the one the jury was called upon to make, the prosecutor said.

"He sentenced his kids to death," Hubbard said.

In a confession, Jones said he strangled 7-year-old Elias with his hands and chased down 8-year-old Merah before choking her. He then used a belt to choke 2-year-old Gabriel and 1-year-old Abigail because he said his hands were too big.

That deserved death and not life, Hubbard said.

A life sentence "is just send Timmy to his room, make him think about what he has done" Hubbard said.

After killing the children, Jones loaded their bodies into his SUV and drove around the Southeast U.S. for nine days before dumping them in five black garbage bags on a dirt road near Camden, Alabama. He was arrested hours later after an officer at a traffic checkpoint in Smith County, Mississippi, said he smelled a horrible odor of decomposition.

Hubbard ended his closing argument with those bags. Prosecutors entered photos showing what was inside the bags into evidence, but didn't show them to the jury. Jurors could have chosen to look at them during deliberations if they wanted.

"If you have any doubt for the appropriate sentence for that man, look in the bag!" Hubbard said.

The defense focused on what his lawyers called undiagnosed schizophrenia made worse by drug and alcohol use. Jurors last week rejected their arguments that Jones was not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill.

During his closing argument Thursday, defense lawyer Casey Secor instead focused on how much Jones is loved by his family even after the killings. His grandmother, father and siblings all asked jurors to spare his life .

"How much more death does the Jones family have to endure? How many more funerals does this family have to go to? How many more tears do they have to shed? How much more heartache to they have to endure?" Secor said.

The children's mother also said she wouldn't choose the death penalty for Jones because she's against capital punishment, but would respect the jury's decision.

Secor said under the law, any juror could decide on life for any reason or for no reason at all.

"You can punish Tim severely with a punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole and be merciful to the people who still love these children," Secor said.

___

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP .

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.