Six months and counting on Brett Jones case decision

TUPELO – Back in December, Brett Jones thought he would know by New Year’s if he would get a new trial or continue his life sentence for the death of his grandfather.
He still doesn’t know.
It’s been six months and 18 days since Circuit Judge Thomas Gardner III heard nearly three hours of testimony, chiefly directed by the 19-year-old’s Tupelo attorney, Sylvia Owen, seeking to show her client deserved a new trial.
Friday, Owen declined to comment but she doesn’t appear to know any more than she did that day.
Last week, Gardner did not answer several Journal phone calls to ask about when his decision is likely.
The court docket shows she asked twice for more time after the hearing when she promised Gardner additional information before his ruling. It also shows she filed Jones’ appeal motion Dec. 31
At age 15, Jones was convicted of stabbing to death his grandfather, Bertis Jones, in his Shannon home during a fight over the elder Jones’ displeasure about the teenager’s behavior with his girlfriend.
He continues serving his sentence in the Walnut Grove Correctional Center.
Earlier this year, the Mississippi Supreme Court granted Jones the hearing before Gardner to present evidence about whether he was denied a fair trial in May 2005.
In the Dec. 3 hearing, Owen sought to present testimony that his trial attorneys – Will Bristow and Rob Laher of Tupelo – had not defended him well enough and had failed to use evidence that might have helped him during the multi-day trial.
Appearing on his behalf were his mother, Enette Alcock, his father, Tony Jones, and his grandmother, Madge Jones.
In varying degrees, they tried to show how isolated Brett had been kept from his family before the trial, without their support and advice, and that his grandfather had grown more emotionally erratic during the year before his death.
Bristow and Laher, who seemed sympathetic to the youth’s plight, defended their legal assistance, especially Bristow, who insisted he had done his best for a teenager facing a life sentence.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal