Family of convicted child killer asks for mercy as Jones could face the death penalty

Updated: Jun. 10, 2019 at 7:31 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The father of the Lexington County man convicted of killing his five children asked for mercy, as he stood in front of the jury shirtless in an effort to show a memorial created of his five slain grandchildren tattooed on his back.

On Monday, the jury heard from Tim Jones Sr. for the second time during the trial, as he testified about how the crime has destroyed the Jones family in multiple ways.

“I love him so much, I don’t want to hurt no more,” Jones Sr. said. “Hell, I’ve hurt enough. It’s destroyed my family. So no, no I don’t (want the death penalty.)”

The defense showed the jury photos and videos from Jones Sr.’s home in Mississippi, where he testified to building a pool for the grandchildren so they could learn how to swim. A short, one minute video played of Jones Sr., pulling Merah and Nahtahn around on floaties, which prompted an emotional response from both Jones Sr. and his son, Tim Jones Jr.

After the children’s deaths, he told the jury he removed the pool, unable to bear looking at it.

Jones Jr.’s grandmother, Roberta Thornsberry, recounted her visit with Jones and his five children just three weeks before their deaths during a day-trip to Atlanta.

“ I feel so guilty because I wish there was something I could have done, something I could have seen, I wish I would have tuned into something but I didn’t,” she said. “I feel totally guilty that I wasn’t there to help him because he needed help, he was devastated with taking care of the kids, I seen that when I was in Atlanta, I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what.”

Jones Sr. said the last time he saw the children alive was in December of 2012 when they were in town visiting for Christmas. After getting into an argument with a family member, he said his son packed up the kids in the car and left town. A year and a half later, in August of 2014, he called Jones Jr. to arrange a trip for Labor Day weekend, the same weekend the children went missing.

“It’s a living hell. I don’t know how to explain it,” Jones Sr. said. “It just changed my whole world, you know? Don’t sleep—it’s really been six years for me—I didn’t get to meet Elaine—it’s tough.”

The jury also heard testimony from Dr. Donna Maddox, a forensic psychiatrist who met with Jones the day after he was extradited to South Carolina in 2014. During their initial encounter, she told the jury “there was no question he was psychotic,” and based on evaluations in subsequent years, diagnosed Jones with schizophrenia.

She testified to meeting with Jones once a year after initially meeting with him in 2014 and said she most recently met with him during the second week of his murder trial. Jones reported to a transport deputy some of his symptoms were returning and needed to see a doctor.

“He complained of hearing voices again, hallucinations, so we increased his anti-psychotic medication dosage,” Maddox testified.

Two SCDC officers also testified, telling the jury Jones was compliant and respectful when he was brought to Kirkland Correctional Institution in 2014. Testimony continues Tuesday morning.

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