Gardner denies new trial for Brett Jones

TUPELO – Convicted murderer Brett Jones will appeal Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner’s decision not to grant him a new trial, his legal counsel says.
“I don’t have any comment at this time other than that,” Tupelo attorney Sylvia Owen said in an e-mail last week.
In April 2008, the Mississippi Supreme Court granted permission for Jones to ask the Circuit Court of Lee County to reconsider his conviction.
Jones, now 20, was 15 when he was convicted by a Lee County jury in 2005 in the stabbing death of his grandfather, Bertis Jones, of Shannon. Gardner sentenced him to life in prison.
Owen listed seven reasons Jones should get a new trial, including ineffective counsel and whether evidence that could have helped his defense was excluded from the trial.
At trial, Jones contended he was attacked by his grandfather and stabbed him in self-defense.
Gardner’s opinion, signed Nov. 19, comes almost a year after Owen pressed Jones’ case in Lee County.
In apparent reference to the time it took to come to an opinion, Gardner said his task was “difficult” to “glean just what the petitioner’s complaint(s) really is.”
Gardner, who rejected those arguments, also declined to agree with Owens’ claims the jury was not impartial and that Jones’ initial questioning without an attorney or parent present unlawfully resulted in an inadmissible confession.
Owen also questioned testimony by controversial pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne.
“Anyone with medical training of any degree could form a valid opinion as to the cause of death where the victim’s body had been punctured by a knife or knives some 20 times,” the judge wrote.
Ultimately, Gardner rejected each specific claim for reconsideration and said “no relief is to be granted.”
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal