By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Jane Jones got justice, prosecutors said Friday shortly after her daughter was found guilty of her murder.
“Justice was served,” Assistant District Attorney Josh Wise said to Jones’ brother in the Prentiss County courtroom. “She didn’t deserve to die.”
Just a few minutes before, a jury of six men and six women unanimously agreed that Rebecca Lynn “Becky” Jones intentionally shot and killed her mother at the mother’s 439 Highway 4 East home on May 11, 2010.
Circuit Judge Jim Seth Pounds sentenced her to the only option: life in prison.
Becky Jones, 49, likely will have the opportunity to apply for parole after she is 65, officials say.
When she heard the verdict, Jones put her face into her hands and trembled emotionally.
Within a few minutes, she was in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections on her way to the state prison in Pearl.
She spent much of Thursday on the stand telling the jury that her 66-year-old mother attacked her and that her 38-caliber pistol fired twice while the women struggled for it in Jane Jones’ living room.
“There was no struggle,” said Assistant District Attorney Kimi Kitchens, who aggressively prosecuted the case with Wise. “We are not going to let anyone get away with murder in Prentiss County.”
Kitchens has been on the case for a while. She and Wise prosecuted Jones’ first trial last October when a mistrial was declared because Jones became incapacitated by an illness.
Kitchens said she thought the key element in the jury’s mind was the two shots and that the gun was found with its hammer cocked for a third shot.
“This was no accident,” she said.
Defense attorney Rob Laher of Tupelo gave an impassioned effort for his client, repeatedly telling the jury Thursday that Jones was telling the truth about what happened.
Laher could not be reached for comment on the verdict late Friday.
On the stand, Jones wept and said, “I feel guilty every day because it was my gun.”
“I did not kill my mother,” she insisted. “I loved Mama.”
But the jury had evidence of more than 40 years of turbulence, which reports said began immediately after the accidental death of Jane Jones’ other daughter at a school bus stop as Becky stood there with her.
“Both women couldn’t get what they wanted,” Laher said. “Becky wanted her mother’s love, and Jane wanted her daughter back.”
Becky Jones’ husband, Larry Putman, said his wife’s life changed after she got away from her mother to live in Alabama with him.
“She is a sweet, kind person,” he told the jury. “Her whole life has changed. She’s happy now.”
After the trial, people familiar with the two women said Jane’s fatal shooting was not the first time confrontations occurred involving Becky Jones’ pistol – more than once when she threatened to hurt herself with it.
Becky Jones and others testified during the trial to her years of drug abuse, which led to her mother’s taking custody of her young daughter and to nearby property she couldn’t pay the taxes on.
In jail conversation, her uncle Jimmy Hicks told the jury Becky told him, “She took my baby, she took my land and now she’s taken my freedom.”
The jury deliberated about 90 minutes Thursday night, then came back Friday and after 21⁄2 hours came back with the guilty-of-murder verdict.
Other options for the jury decision were not guilty, or guilty of culpable negligent manslaughter or heat-of-passion manslaughter, which came from discussions between the judge and attorneys.
Authorities said daughter-on-mother murder is so rare that they don’t even keep statistics.