Court denies rehearing for Brett Jones

Court NewsBy Patsy R. Brumfield

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Convicted murderer Brett Jones will not get another chance to flesh out questions before he is resentenced in Lee County Circuit Court.

Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied his attorneys’ attempts to seek clarification on a July decision, which sent Jones’ life-sentence back for another look by Judge Thomas Gardner.

Jones, now 24, was barely 15 when he was arrested in 2004 for the stabbing death of his grandfather in the Palmetto community. He claims it was self-defense.

Last July, the state’s highest court vacated Jones’ sentence of life without possibility of parole in light of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Tom Freeland of Oxford, one of Jones’ attorneys, said at that time he and co-counsel Sylvia Owen of Tupelo would ask the state Supreme Court for a rehearing to clarify what it intends to happen with Jones’ sentence.

Today’s ruling ends that attempt for clarity.

Three of the nine justices voted that they would have granted Jones’ rehearing – James Kitchens, David Chandler and Leslie King.

The MSSC ruled 6-3 that it’s unconstitutionally unfair to automatically sentence a juvenile to life without possibility of parole, which followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

The 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, which is what the nation’s highest court said mandatory life without possibility of parole is for a juvenile.

Freeland said no date is set for Jones’ resentencing, although the case is on the November court term docket.

patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com