Tim Jones, Jr.'s mental health could play role in defense

Tim Jones, Jr. (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)
Tim Jones, Jr. (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Lexington County community is still reeling from the deaths of five children who investigators say were brutally murdered at the hands of their father.

Tim Jones, Jr. is behind bars in a state prison, charged with five counts of murder and unlawful neglect of a child.

However, there are already questions about Jones' mental health and if that could be part of his defense in court.

"It's the ultimate tragedy," defense attorney Jack Swerling said.

With Jones' mental health in question, Swerling said it could be important in the trial.

"We have some serious concerns, obviously, about his mental health," attorney Aimee Zmroczek said after a preliminary hearing for Jones last Friday. "Jails and prisons are not a place for people that are struggling with serious, clearly serious, issues of mental health."

Last week, Zmroczeck, who was contacted by the Jones family, told reporters Jones has been treated for mental health issues in the past.

DSS documents don't mention any mental health problems but a warrant released Wednesday said, "Jones stated that he believed the children were going to kill him, chop him up, and feed him to the dogs."

That warrant also said deputies found handwritten notes about killing and mutilating bodies in Jones' car.

"The question is, you know, does that mental illness or problem they're having go over into the area of insanity, because insanity is the only way someone is going to be found not guilty in a situation like that on a mental defense," Swerling said.

In South Carolina, Swerling said proving insanity isn't easy.

"You have to be unable to distinguish moral or legal right from wrong in order to be insane, and that is a tough standard," Swerling said.

Swerling said public defenders Boyd Young and Rob Madsen will look at any mental health records and closely investigate Jones' behavior on the day of the alleged crime.

"And they're going to be giving that all to a psychiatrist, a forensic psychiatrist, who relates the psychiatry and law, so that they can present it in court," Swerling said. "I've tried a lot of cases against Donnie Myers. He's brilliant in his preparation and his strategy, but what he's going to be looking at is attempts to conceal things, the plan, notes that he had."

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