Like Merle Haggard’s song, “Mama Tried,” Brett Jones turns 21 in prison today quite literally doing life without parole.
Jones was barely 15 when he stabbed to death his grandfather, Bertis Jones, in 2004 in Shannon.
Brett Jones had come to live there near his father, Tony, while his mother in Florida got a breather from the stresses between her teenage son and his stepfather.
Public controversy swirled around his incarceration and questioning by investigators without a parent’s presence.
How Brett has fared the past five years in prison can be gleaned only from indirect sources.
Jones’ appeals attorney, Sylvia Owen of Tupelo, won’t allow interviews with him while his conviction continues up the appeals ladder.
Brett’s mother, Enette Alcock, said she’d like to talk about her son but has been advised by Owen not to say anything as they wait on the appeal.
At his Lee County trial, Brett claimed he was defending himself from his grandfather’s fury over finding him with his girlfriend in the grandfather’s house.
Since the trial, family members have given sworn statements that Bertis Jones was erratic and emotionally unstable.
Owen also has insisted that his trial attorneys failed to show the jury an accurate layout of the kitchen, where the fight began, and which could have been persuasive in convincing them that the teenager was trapped by the older man, with no route of escape.
He’s been in prison since May 23, 2005.
But a MySpace website set up for Brett offers some insights about his years of reaching adulthood in prison.
He describes himself as single and straight. He says his occupation is “rotting.”
And he even says he has hopes to have children some day.
Brett earned his GED and was valedictorian of his graduating class at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. He also got the math award.
He says he’d like to go to college.
Last year, he got involved with Kairos, a Christian prison ministry.
The website, managed by a free-world friend, shows photographs of Brett, as well as artwork he’s done and poetry he’s written.
The art contains mythological and religious icons, images of death and snippets of ideas.
“Save me, somebody!!” is written on one.
On another in which the word “Dream” dominates the center, a handwritten verse reads: As I lay me down to sleep; I think of my troubles, they make me weep; But as I slip into the world of my mind; I leave all my bothers and stress behind.
There’s even a photo taken Nov. 1, 2008, when teenager Tyler Edmonds was acquitted during a retrial on his murder charge in Oktibbeha County. Edmonds was 15 when he was indicted in the shooting death of his brother-in-law.
Chronologically, Brett Jones may have reached legal adulthood, but in survey responses posted on the website, he admits his “weakness” is kids and small fuzzy animals.
He says his first thought as he wakes up is, “I’m hungry.”
He also admits he smokes and likes strong black coffee. He’s says he’s been beaten up.
He leaves blank the question of whether he’s ever been in love.
He also leaves blank the last category on the survey: Number of things in my past I regret.
Suzanne Singletary, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, says that despite Brett’s birthday, he can remain at Walnut Grove until he’s 22. After that, he will go to the state penitentiary at Parchman.
Wednesday, Owen was granted more time to file Brett’s appeal brief with the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patsy Brumfield/Daily Journal