LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - After more than three weeks of testimony, a jury has reached a verdict in the trial of Timothy Jones, Jr., a Lexington County man accused of murdering his five children in 2014.
The jury concluded that Jones has been found guilty on all five counts of murder in the deaths of his children.
The second phase of the proceedings is the sentencing phase and that will begin at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday. Because the state is seeking the death penalty, the jury is now responsible for determining his punishment.
The jury had four options for their verdict: guilty, guilty but mentally ill, not guilty by reason of insanity, or not guilty. Jones pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
A grand jury indicted Jones, Jr. in 2014 on five counts of murder in the deaths of his children – Mera, 8; Elias, 7; Nahtahn, 6; Gabriel, 2; and Abigail, 1. For Mera, Elias, Gabriel, and Abigail, the indictments state the children were killed “by means of strangulation and/or other violent means or instruments.”
The bodies of the children were found in garbage bags off of a dirt road in Alabama. Jones, Jr. led authorities to the bodies after being arrested in Mississippi. Jones, who appeared to be under the influence at the time of his arrest, was questioned at the checkpoint by a Smith County, Miss. deputy about an odor of chemicals coming from his vehicle. After further investigation, the deputy found what appeared to be chemicals used to make meth and a street drug known as “Spice.” Investigators also said his Cadillac Escalade was blood-soaked and “smelled of death.”
"Jones stated that he believed the children were going to kill him, chop him up, and feed him to the dogs," the arrest warrant said.
Closing arguments began Monday, June 3, and 11th Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard III surmised the state’s death penalty case.
“Tim Jones may love his family, but there’s someone he loves more, Tim Jones," Hubbard said.
Solicitor Hubbard points to a defense psychiatrist who testified Jones didn't know exercising Nahtahn and his subsequent death was legally wrong but reminds the jury DSS had told Jones he wasn't allowed to touch the children.
"When he picked up his phone and chose not to call 911, I know what the law is and I know I'm in trouble," Hubbard says. "The worst of the worst know killing your babies is obscene, outrageous and absolutely morally unacceptable. Jones did that in a matter of seconds.”
As for the defense, Jones’ attorneys laid out their reasoning for the not guilty by reason of insanity plea. Jones’ defense team told the jury he is schizophrenic, but had not been diagnosed at the time of the alleged crime. His attorney says Jones’ mom has been institutionalized for 20 years with diagnosed schizophrenia.
As defense attorney Boyd Young closed in at one hour into his closing arguments, Jones took off his glasses and dabbed his eyes with his handkerchief as he had throughout the weeks-long trial.
His defense made a motion for a mistrial, accusing Deputy Solicitor Shawn Graham of getting choked up while giving the state’s opening statements. That motion is denied.
Jones, Jr. never took the stand in his own defense.
Interview with attorney Carl B. Grant about today’s verdict and what comes next.
Check back for updates.