UPDATE: No verdict yet, jury goes home for fresh start Friday in Jones case

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

UPDATE 7:36 P.M. – Judge Pounds says jury note indicates they want to go home and resume deliberations Friday morning. That’s what he’s going to do.
Proceedings will begin at 9 a.m. He cautions them not to begin deliberations until he speaks with them then.
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UPDATE: 6:41 P.M. – No verdict yet. Jury out about 2 hours.
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FIRST AFTERNOON POST – 4:26 P.M.
BOONEVILLE – Becky Jones’ fate is in the hands of 12 people after nearly 90 minutes of closing arguments by the state and defense.
Both sides gave emotional speeches to the jury.
Defense attorney Rob Laher repeatedly told the jury not to let his client be railroaded – “She told you the truth. What she said is consistent every time.”
Assistant DA Kimmie Kitchens said Jones murdered her mother, and at the end of her closing played part of victim Jane Jones’ call to 911 for help.
The jury went to consider its verdict at 4:24 p.m.
Jones, 49, stands accused in the May 11, 2010, shooting death of 66-year-old Jane Jones at the older woman’s 439 Highway 4 East home in Prentiss County.
Laher of Tupelo insists it was a terrible accident when Becky Jones’ 38-caliber pistol discharged as the two women wrestled for the gun the week after Mother’s Day.
• • •
(Below is a running account from the Prentiss County courtroom. Please excuse the typos and glitches likely as I type rapidly.)
Circuit Judge Jim Seth Pounds is presiding. This is Jones’ second trial – the first ended in a mistrial last October after she was discovered comatose in an Alabama hospital after a mysterious overnight health problem in her home.
Prosecutors are Kimmie Kitchens and Josh Wise.
• • •
2:30 P.M. – Judge back to go over instructions (points of law) jury will consider for its verdict.
First, he talks without detail about court’s instructions. Refers to People’s instructions, those are from the DA’s Office. Defense instructions.
State has file another instruction. will be Court’s 4.5 instruction.
Attorneys respond from Pounds’ questions about reminders as they wrap up closing arguments.
2:45 – Jury invited back. Couple of dozen spectators in the audience.
JUDGE – Tells jury they’ve heard all testimony and evidence. Will instruct them soon about how to reach their verdict. Sworn duty to follow the law. You determine the facts in this case… to reach a just verdict. You are the sole judge of the facts in this case. Arguments are not evidence.
(He walks them through all their choices for a verdict.) Choices are: not guilty or guilty of murder, culpable negligent manslaughter or heat-of-passion manslaughter. Jury must be unanimous
Closing arguments – 40 minutes each side. This order: State 20, Defense 40, State 20.
JOSH WISE – Each of you said you could sit in judgment of your fellow man. State has met its burden of proof. It is not even close. (He goes through testimony of deputy Johnson.) Did she find defendant giving her mother any help? No. She was talking on the phone to her boyfriend. Deputy found Jones shot twice. Begging for her life. Saw no evidence of a struggle inside the home or on the defendant. Officer Reagan – investigator – conducted tests, collected evidence. You saw photos of the scene. No evidence of a struggle. Gun found exactly where the defendant was sitting, on the couch. Gun, two shots fired. The hammer was fully cocked back. All the way back. The gun does not cock itself. Reagan says no evidence of a struggle. Defendant did absolutely nothing to get her mother help.
She left her mother to die, and that’s exactly what happened. Not normal. Anyone normal does not murder their mother.
Robinson, firearms examiner, tested bullets and found that gun was greater away than contact but less than 9 inches. McMaster said other injury was less than 2 feet away. Pressure to fire the weapon. Sheriff Tolar took defendant’s statement next morning. She said she went to see her mother to “get some things off her chest.” Admitted her gun, her bullets, in her custody after the two shots fired. Also told him she saw blood and, then left the scene. Didn’t call for help. No evidence of a struggle – look at the booking photo. When Tolar told her about death of her mother, not the first tear. No remorse.
Jimmy Hicks said defendant got mad about talking of selling property and the women argued about it. He said she told him she killed her mother. Didn’t say it was an accident or a struggle. She said I killed my mother. She still blamed her mother for her problems. Talks about medical examiner, declared it homicide. Betty Robinson about plans to sell the property. Didn’t happen because Jane died. Info about Becky’s loss of custody of her child.
Sheriff’s Dept. obtained the exact evidence to prove who was there. Jane said my daughter is trying to kill me, she has shot me twice and she’s coming bak to kill me. You could hear the fear in her voice. How chilling it was. You heard her.
Defendant’s case: Testimony from Brooke Creech, said she told mother about property. Who has the property now? Brooke. Billy Martin said he didn’t know what happened in that home – no evidence of a struggle. Larry Putman, Becky’s husband, said she and Jane still had problems. Continuous. Said his wife had a bad temper. He was not credible. Linda Oakley – no knowledge of what happened. David Whitehead – gunshot residue expert … just shows person was in the environment of a shot gun. Of course Jane Jones had it – she was shot twice.
Then from Becky Jones. Still blaming her mother for her problems. Admitted gun in her possession before and after shots fired. Did nothing to help her mother. Physical evidence – one photo taken last year and GSR test showing environment. No evidence of a struggle because there wasn’t one. No proof there was one. State has met its burden. State asks you (he’s holding up photos of defendant and victim.) request to return a guilty verdict of murder. It cannot be anything else. Not a one-shot accident, it’s a two-shot murder. 3:25 p.m.
ROB LAHER FOR DEFENSE – CLOSING
A lot of us here the morning when this first started. Head talk about what was about to go on. Told you – circuit clerk said, this is Prentiss County. You can’t get railroaded in Prentiss County. Becky told the truth. Prosecutors say this is more about what she didn’t do than what she did – didn’t cry, didn’t scream. What did we find in that room? What does the evidence show? 911 call, shots were fired, Becky is crazy, drug addict. We find Ms. Jones near front door, Becky outside. Clear walkway to Ms. Jones, says doesn’t see signs of a struggle. Becky told her outside, a struggle over a gun. Didn’t say over a recliner or nicknacks. Since we don’t see anything on the ground and don’t have things turned over … easier to say there’s no struggle. Fact was, there were things on the floor. Nothing to be knocked over.
What signs of what happened. Reagan said didn’t see signs of struggle. What did we see? We knew she had told them what happened. Said mother saw gun and we struggled over it. Two shots. One, we were standing up. What she said today and day after this happened. What found? Broke glass in the door. Not another hole in the house. That’s consistent with what she said. Because it’s Becky and didn’t cry, it’s nothing. Becky said second shot happened when they went to the ground. Was there a bullet hole somewhere near the ground? Yes, there was. Later, Reagan said he saw it. We told you about it, he didn’t. What does that mean. Second shot was low to the ground. Becky said we were on the ground struggling when second shot went off. Is that an overturned ash tray or something else? No, it’s physical evidence that is consistent with what she told them at the time. Evidence consistent with the truth.
Do we want to consider that? She told them that. But she didn’t cry. Instead of looking at what happened, they looked at what didn’t happen.
Then, 911 call. Think about this …Look at transcript. Is Becky still there? Yes. Who told you that? Becky told you that. Who was there when Johnson got there? Becky was there before Johnson got there. Know this, she told you the absolute truth. She told you about why she left… being there when call was made, says she’s telling you the truth. Plenty of witnesses said what she was doing there. She had planned this trip for a while, coming to meet people. Simply, she wanted to talk to mother, see how she was doing. They ere going to discuss some things but nothing more than that.
No signs of struggle? If I planned to shoot someone, I’d stand feet, yards away and shoot you. Physical evidence tells you shirt – 9 inches or closer. OK? That is a sign of a struggle. That is second shot. Exactly what she told you happened. Sorry I don’t hae a shot of a turned over … what I know that is a sign of struggle. Hole in wall is a sign of a struggle. McMaster couldn’t tell you if other wound was left or right. It goes this way across… consistent with reaching and pulling for a gun. That’s the shot that went through the door. Consistent with a struggle.
Why didn’t police talk about it? Because it doesn’t fit … in nice orderly manner. Another sharp turn. If you don’t condemn her because she didn’t cry or things we think she should have done … because she’s not normal a… everything there tells you she was telling the truth.
They tested this shirt. Showed how close. Tested hands, showed how close they were. All sides of Mrs. Jones hands. Said in general area. Not across the room. Consistent with what Becky told you. Problem is that the truth has sharp left and sharp rights on this situation. It does.
Rather than photograph furniture, wouldn’t you believe fingerprints? Wouldn’t you want to know Jane Jones’ fingerprints were all over the gun? I would want to know that. I know it doesn’t fit …but wouldn’t you want to know. Could it be that she is telling us the truth? Instead of spending hours of digging through records of 25 years ago … can you not take 5 minutes and drive out there, take a photo or look onthe wall. Is her life or freedom not worth that? Just to see? Is it not worth checking court records .. how about this. Please check for fingerprints. FEDEX, gone to Jackson. Could that not be just as important? Especially, when everything else is checking out. Nothing wrong with what she says. She’s telling the truth.
Becky says she came back, concerned. Gave a statement. Nobody to talk to. Told you the same exact story today as what she said then. It was the truth. When you have evidence that she was going to have a party, people expecting her. This is a case about a struggle between two women. Had been going on along time. Both had problems with each other, started when the sister died. Becky wanted her mother’s love. Jane wanted the daughter who had passed.
Heard testimony about how much better Becky’s life was when she left for Alabama. She was told to wash her hands of her mother. As long as she did that, things were OK. She still wanted her love. She even thought her daughter Brooke back. She wanted Jane to come to the party. Not someone who intended to kill somebody. Wanted to be with her mother.
Court instructions about different options you have. I suggest that most important one is: Told about reasonable doubt. She’s presumed to be innocent, even now. Can you say on your oath …. have reasonable doubt, find her not guilty. Remember who told you the truth, point by point about what happened. She hasn’t changed her story – I wasn’t there. There’s reasonable doubt. Reason you have that law to make sure we don’t make a mistake. We know mistakes happen. You get railroaded. That’s when mistakes happen.
She really told the truth. When you don’t try to show …when more concerned your story being right than with somebody who may have told you the truth, that’s when mistakes happen. More concerned… she didn’t act like I thought she should have. When don’t look to see .. think about it. shots up and shot down. What should I be looking for. Should be GSR on both hands. Fingerprints on the gun? …. uh, that’s when mistakes happen.
Appreciate your service this week. Rather than think about what she didn’t do, look at what she said. Then, I’ll tell you to look back at her statement … 911 tape. Consistent. Gun … shells. Did she want to murderher mother? No. If she had, she had 3 more shots. She could have shot her any time she wanted to. She didn’t want to, not hurt her mother. Look at the statement. Had gun with her. Everybody knew she carried a gun all the time. That’s consistent. Talked to her mother, picks gun up and keys – her mother comes after her. That’s consistent with what she said, consistent with their relationship. Struggles. One shot standing … consistent with somebody struggling for a gun. She told you the truth aboutthat. On the ground, the gun fires again. Bullet hole off floor. Shirt, residue on both hands. Consistent. Everything she told you happened.
She said she panicked. Threw the gun down. Is that what a cold blooded murder does? No. That’s shock. That’s what they do. She leaves, 30 seconds realizes didn’t do anything wrong. Is that what murderer do? No. Consistent with what she told you. She didn’t murder her mother. No intentions to kill her mother. You will see what she told you is true. And you won’t make a mistake.
I hope today as you consider …someone who has told you the truth and can withstand the prosecutor coming after her – everything bad she’s every done in her life. Let’s talk about everything bad you ever did. What kind of person are you. Do dope? You’re a horrible mother? You don’t do right? Think about that. How would it be? What could you do to show they were wrong? Only one thing: Tell the truth. Exactly what she told them. Evidence everything she said is backed up. When someone continues to tell you the truth … you can say, she was telling the truth. It’s a beautiful thing. Because this system will work and it can, and youcan make it work. You can vote, to throw the switch on this train and based on hunches and stop the train.
Don’t let someone get railroaded in your county, especially somebody who’s telling the truth. She had no intention to hurt her mother. Judge will give you the law to say what’s going on here. You’ve got the power to say no one wanted to investigate this case … nobody considered that she was innocent… that’s Becky Jones, use to be crazy, a drug addict. Nobody wanted to think about that maybe she was telling the truth. Today is the day .. to say I beieved you… can’t get railroaded in Prentiss County.
Sad as I am about Mrs. Jones’ passing … before I let someone who told me the truth.. and I have a reasonable doubt .. I have a doubt here… I’m not saying who’s right or wrong… I’m saying I hae a doubt and she may be innocent. Before you allow the train to keep on going .. folks you … no one else has thought her worthy. You are her last chance because she did tell you the truth. I ask you to vote not guilty. 4:02
KITCHENS – Somethings about trains, they leave tracks. Defendant left behind bullets, gun, mother’s blood. Left her mother lying on the ground dying as she rolled right on out the door. We have a murder weapon in this case – her name is Rebecca Jones. This gun did not pull its own trigger. This gun didn’t pull the second time. This gun didn’t cock itself the third time. Rebeca Jones did.
Is this an accident? This isn’t self defense, not manslaughter. This is murder,cold blooded murder. State brought to you 10 witnesses. Seven of them told you something happened May 11, 2010. They saw scene, defendant or victim. State’s witnesses.
All they said, every last one of them, there was no struggle. If no struggle, think about this… no struggle, there’s no accident. If there’s no struggle, there’s no self-defense. I’lls ay it again. No struggle, no accident. No struggle, no self-defense.
Let’s look at what witnesses said. What Becky Jones told you – showed her this picture. Sitting on this couch and mother in this chair, maybe a little closer. This is taken minutes after the murder. If we had a struggle, how is all this in place. Struggling over their life., Somebody was leaving and somebody wasn’t. This is where Becky Jones said it happened… right here. All three investigators .. said no evidence of a struggle at the scene.
Picture right next to the chair where Jane Jones is sitting. Look like a struggle to y’all? This is defendant after the struggle. Wish my hair looked like that after a struggle. Clothes fine. Makeup fine. Hair fine. No blood on her shirt. Rolling around … (pulls shirt out of envelope)… why no blood on Becky Jones? Struggle for life? Really?
Also heard from Felicia Robinson – that this gun, shoot if this way.. 15 pounds of pressure to pull it. (She pulls it.) If pull hammer back, it takes 5 pounds. It did not go off by accident, she said. What happened … she had her hands up like this. That’s how it happened. Blocking a bullet coming when her daughter had gun pointed at her.
Judge read instructions – use your good common sense. Accidentally killed your mother. Surely you have some emotion. In self-defense, surely you have some emotion. If you murder your mother, you don’t. Why? Because you want her dead. McMaster said this wasn’t an accident, nothing in autopsy. Death at the hands of another.
Hamlin testified (911 operator) no other call came in that day, only from Jane herself. She told you .. I am dying. In your last moment on this earth, are you going to tell the truth? Fixing to meet your maker? Are you going to tell the truth?
My daughter shot me two times. She’s crazy. Person sitting here (Becky) – is she going to tell the truth? Defendant called several witnesses … obvious they would say anything at all to get her found not guilty. Said one thing, then said something different to try to help the defendant. Luckily we had transcript from before… she’s not this wonderful person they try to paint her out to be.
Brooke Creech … even she had ot admit that Jane is her babysitter. Do you leave your baby with someone who is horrible? Like Brooke said her grandmother was? Do you choose to live with someone who is horrible, like Brooke said of jane? Brooke was willing to say anything to save her mother. Defendant did nothing to save her mother.
No call to 911. Didn’t try to help her. Didn’t go to the neighbor. She nothing.
If your head tells you this doesn’t add up to struggle or accident, and if your heart tells you id=t doesn’t add up – gun goes off two times and cocks third time. You don’t run out the door without helping your mother. When hearts and heads align with investigation … you get a picture of the defendant shooting two times and killed her mother.
One more time: She got her mother first, then told you – I didn’t know she was shot. Why had second shot. Then, she said, after second shot – I still didn’t now I had shot her – that’s why gun was cocked third time. She said, then I saw blood and she ran out the door.
That’s why no other shots. She knew she had done it. She knew she had shot her mother. I feel guilty every day … why? Because she is guilty of murdering her mother. Came into her mother’s home, shot her, she walked out the door and her mother never did. (PLAYS 911 TAPE) KITCHENS SITS DOWN. (We hear Jane Jones say daughter shot her twice in stomach and arm. Says daughter has left house. Please hurry, please hurry. (KITCHENS STOPS TAPE.)
JUDGE – Now, I will allow 12 of you go to the jury room. Cites two alternates. Asks them to stay around in courtroom while others retire to the jury room. 4:24 p.m.
Three things on record: defense instruction on accident. defense asked for two manslaughter instructions. defense also asked for self-defense instruction. I agreed.
Exhibits to go to jury room. In recess awaiting jury verdict.
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11:55 A.M.
BOONEVILLE – Questions remain about whether Becky Jones’ jury will consider new charges of culpable negligent manslaughter or heat-of-passion manslaughter, Judge Jim Seth Pounds said to attorneys after the jury left the murder trial for lunch near noon.
Jones took the stand on her own defense and proved a sympathetic witness, better than several others who testified on her behalf.
“I did not kill my mother,” she insisted repeatedly. “I feel guilty – I feel guilty every day because it was my gun.”
She insisted that her mother, Jane Jones, attacked her when Becky Jones reached for her car keys to leave Jane Jones’ home in 2010. In reaching for the keys, Becky Jones said she moved her 38-caliber pistol into view from her purse.
“We struggled … we were wrestling over the gun,” she told the jury, saying the gun went off twice.
Jones, 49, stands accused in the May 11, 2010, shooting death of 66-year-old Jane Jones at the older woman’s 439 Highway 4 East home in Prentiss County.
Defense attorney Rob Laher of Tupelo insists it was a terrible accident when
• • •
(Below is a running account from the Prentiss County courtroom. Please excuse the typos and glitches likely as I type rapidly.)
Circuit Judge Jim Seth Pounds is presiding. This is Jones’ second trial – the first ended in a mistrial last October after she was discovered comatose in an Alabama hospital after a mysterious overnight health problem in her home.
Prosecutors are Kimmie Kitchens and Josh Wise.
11:30 – JUDGE BACK. BECKY JONES RESUMES PLACE ON STAND. INVITES JURY BACK.
KIMMIE KITCHENS TO CROSS-EXAMINE
(KITCHENS – Shows her photo of living room. Said mother on couch?) No, I was on couch. (Mother?) In recliner. (Closest to couch?) Yes. (You said your mother came from her and tried to take the gun from you?) Yes. (How?) Chair was further back this way. This was closer to the couch. (Now, this is your guN?) Yes, (Your bullets?) Yes. (You put gun into your purse to go into house?) No, when left Alabama.
(Shows her statement from 5/12/2010, day after happened?) Yes. (I didn’t lock door, that’s why I stuck it in my purse… says.) I believed it was already in my purse. That day, said stuck it in purse. (Gun in your hand?) Yes. (Two shots went off?) I did not shoot my om. (Shots) Yes. In both of our hands. Her hands were on the gun too. (Statement … says I ealized at that point I hd the gun in my hand?) That was after the shooting. I didn’t hear you say that.
(After..?) She let go of it. I put it on the couch. I had backed up and threw it on couch. (You realize y… you didn’t realize she had been shot after first one?) No, she kept fighting me. (Second shot.) There was. (Then reaLIZED she’d been hit?) No, she kept fighting me. (After second, not first shot …when you realized?) I didn’t know she’d been hit. (Ma’am, did she not go down and you saw blood?) We were both on floor. I got up. No. she didb’t get up. I saw blood on the floor. By then she was on the floor and talking to 911, saying I had shot her. She said help me. (Last conversation she ever had?) Far as I know.
After I tried to get on phone to tell them that wasn’t … (Where other phone?) Laying there, tried to mash buttons, couldn’t get anybody on line. (What about your cell phones?) I don’t know why I had two in my hands. (Call 911 on them?) She did. I could have. I was in shock, I wasn’t thinking … (Not about your mom? Called your boyfriend.) I did call him. (Not 911?) They had already been called. She already called them. (You chose to call boyfriend?) She had called. JUDGE – ANSWER. I called him.
(Call ambulance/) No. (police?) No already called. I didn’t know she was dying. I knew she was shot. That’s why I went back. (On phone with boyfriend?) Yes, in driveway. (Did you tell him you killed your mother?) I told him I felt guilty … I’m not going to call him a liar. (Tell him?) I did not say that. (Miscommunication when your mother said her daughter was trying to kill me?) That was a lie. (While she lay there … bleeding out… she was more worried about getting you in trouble than what was going to happen as far as dying?) That’s what she died. (Hicks a liar?) I didn’t call hij a liar. I told hi I wasn’t guilty. I felt guilty, I still do beause it was my gun. Feel guilty every day because it was my gun. (Because you killed your mom>) No, I didn’t kill my mom. (Did you hear the 911 tape?) I did. Iheard part of it that day, that’s why I panicked and tried to get on the phone to say that’s not what happened.
(Why you called your boyfriend? You needed help?) I don’t know what you mean. I panicked. I didn’t do anything wrong. (Mother was lying on the floor, she’s the one who needed help?) She called 911. (You called?) I tried to get on 911. LAHER – OBJECT. JUDGE – ASKED AND ANSWERED. SHE DIDN’T CALL ANYBODY BUT HER BOYFRIEND. POINT’S MADE.
(Ms. Jones, did you have a gun permit?) No. Legal to carry it when it was in full sight. If I got stopped, it was in full sight. (Inside your purse?) It was lying on top of my purse. (In a hospital?) I did do that. (Permit to do that?) No.
NO FURTHER QUESTIONS. 11:40
LAHER – RE-DIRECT / NO
DEFENSE RESTS
JUDGE – To jury, I’m trying to plan ahead. Case isn’t over yet. State has opportunity to call rebuttal. Give state a couple of minutes to decide if they want to do that. To jury, bear with us.
STATE FINALLY RESTS, KITCHENS SAYS. Jury exits 11:47
LAHER asks for acquittal. Judge denies motion.
JUDGE – Issue here. To Laher, are you seeking a manslaughter instructino for heat of passion of culpable negligent manslaughter. Fell like I will have answer after lunch break. JUDGE – Issue of whether court is obligated to give one, whether you ask for it or not. Mr. Laher, that is going to be your call. I’ve never seen any case in all my years where both instructions include culpable negligent manslaughter or heat of passion. We’ve got some refinements to do. That and form of the verdict – 3 or 4 options, or ask jury to tell us which manslaughter to find. Don’t know, they may find murder. This is a little complicated.
• • •
11:15 POST
BOONEVILLE – A weeping Becky Jones insisted she never intended to kill her mother.
“I loved my Mama,” she said, “I always loved Mama.”
Jones’ testimony comes in the third day that she’s on trial.
Jones, 49, stands accused in the May 11, 2010, shooting death of 66-year-old Jane Jones at the older woman’s 439 Highway 4 East home in Prentiss County.
Defense attorney Rob Laher of Tupelo insists it was a terrible accident when Becky Jones’ 38-caliber pistol discharged as the two women wrestled for the gun the week after Mother’s Day.
• • •
(Below is a running account from the Prentiss County courtroom. Please excuse the typos and glitches likely as I type rapidly.)
Circuit Judge Jim Seth Pounds is presiding. This is Jones’ second trial – the first ended in a mistrial last October after she was discovered comatose in an Alabama hospital after a mysterious overnight health problem in her home.
Prosecutors are Kimmie Kitchens and Josh Wise.
10:05 A.M. – JUDGE RETURNS.
LAHER CALLS DAVID WHITEHEAD. Jury returns.
WHITEHEAD – Works at MS Crime Lab, From Tishomingo County. With lab since January 1994. Details educational, training, work background. Specializes in forensics trace evidence. Says it’s like CSI you see on TV. Comparisons work. Gunshot residue and firearms evidence probably main work. Recent training on glass evidence.
LAHER TENDERS HIM AS EXPERT (STATE – NO OBJECTION)
10:15 – (Laher – shows him some exhibits.) Copies of my certified crime lab reports. My signature and person who did the work. (Wise asks to look at them.) (Laher – what is it?) D22 – report I issued on a kit from a Mary Jane Jones. (Know her, ever see her?) No. Received a … gunshot residue collection from Jane Jones. Samples from hands. Idea to determine if primer is on hands. Kit collected by officer and when I received it, I analyzed it on microscope. (What did you find?) These samples, particles of gunshot residue on all the samples from Mary Jane Jones. Back and palm of both hands.
(Gunshot residue … what does that mean?) We’re looking for the primer components. … chemicals in gunpowder. Comes out end of barrel, but looking for small component of primer. When comes out barrel, solidifies when it hits the air. Another type report, not all particles will have all three elements … pieces will break off. If particles are round and contain lead-bearing animony… we don’t classify as particles. Without chemical, we classify as “indicating”.
Gas escapes the weapon when it is fired. Any opening in the weapon is where the primer can escape. Some comes out front. A plume of residue escapes without 2-3 feet of the discharge. From 3 feet out, depending on weapon … maybe 4 feet. (That’s what you did in this case?) Examine the samples submitted to the Crime Lab … for presence of primer.
(Another examination?) Exhibit D23 – from Rebecca Jones. Particles positively on right palm and back of left hand. Indicative on right palm, back of left hand on left palm. No residue on back of right hand. No particles on back of right. But positive on right palm and back and palm of left hand.
(Another examination of Jane Jones?) Yes, another kit taken at scene. From the victim. (Medical intervention on her, no way of knowing?) No. (Were particles still present for second test?) Yes, one of the samples. That sample … Jane Jones.. positive right palm, indicative on left palm. Whoever took samples did a good job.
10:28 – WISE TO QUESTION
(Wise – Isn’t purpose of the test, to determine if person near a fired gun?) Yes. (Does testing show exact distance person is from fired gun?) No. (Doesn’t show if someone’s hand was on a firearm when it was fired?) No. Puts person in the environment. Fired weapon, close to it or handled something. If handled, expect to find it on the palm. (Means in environment of gunshot?) Yes.
(Exhibits – it’s the gun. Asks him to secure it.) He checks it. Says it’s not loaded. (If you fired that gun today in the courtroom, would residue be found on you?) Yes, expect to find it? (On me?) Standing so close to me, yes … even court reporter. (Doesn’t mean hand was on the gun, just in the environment?) Yes. (To be clear, residue doesn’t mean evidence of a struggle?) No sir. (Not purpose of test?) No. (Purpose to test in environment of a discharged weapon?) Yes. Most important is about person who claims not to have fired a weapon but we find evidence of it on them.
(In this case, we know Jones was shot twice.) If gun was close range, she could have primer anywhere on her. (Two bullet wounds … found because she was in environment?) I would expect to find residue. (In this case, it means she was in the environment of a discharged gun?) BAsiclly all I can say.
LAHER RE-DIRECT
(What about struggle?) Doesn’t mean there wasn’t a struggle. Only tells you person was within 2-3 feet of a weapon at the time it discharged. (If you fired weapon in the air and my hand was hidden, would you find it on me?) Probably not. (Holds hands behind his back?) Fired now, less residue on the hands. Palms are exposed, so possible to find some. (More likely both sides of hands on gun or close?) Yes.
WITNESS EXCUSED 10:36
LAHER CALLS REBECCA JONES TO STAND.
JONES – Go by Becky. Lives Lexington, Ala., 9 years. Before, in Booneville. You’re the defendant. Know what this is about.
(Laher – questions about what happened at your mom’s house that day. Why coming to Mississippi?) Well, I had planned a jewelry party, that Saturday. REal excited about it for about three weeks. Going to go and had things to do that morning. Going to go to my Uncle Bill Arnold’s house and meet Linda Oakley that afternoon or next morning. I had talked to Linda on Monday or Sunday. (When decided to see mother?) When got to Uncle Bill’s house, decided to go. I love her, I usually came to see her when I came to Missisisppi.
(Long relationship with mom?) Yes, (Ups and downs?) We did. (Improved?) I thought it had, closer since the grandbaby had been born. Talked Brooke into letting her see the baby. (Sell some land?) Heard that. When mother and daddy got divorce, he gave me the land and gave mother an acre and the house. In 1989, I couldn’t pay the taxes. she said if I put itin her name, she could. Agreement was later she would give it back to me, in 1989.
(In 1989? You?) I was working. I thought I was doing good. (Your problems?) I had had problems with drugs. You know, we both did drugs. (Problems hit land?) Yes, but more about couldn’t pay taxes… 17 acres. Other land, father left me 57 acres plus a house. (Heard she would sell anything else?) Heard everything. I was concerned. She worshipped that house, lived there 40 years, she’d done a bunch of repairs and upgrades.
(Sell everything? Concern?) Yes, it was out of character for her. Worried about it. Talked with friends and others about it – best friend about it. Uncle Bill. Uncle Jim… several people. Asked them to please call her. She’d never talked about that. Worried about her.(Upset you that day?) She had been acting erratic for several months. I wanted to talk about several things. (“Off your chest?) Expression I used.
(Go by the house to see mother.) I always went back and checked on her, when I came to Mississippi. Didn’t talk to her about a year. But when baby ws born, I wanted that relationship back … wanted her to be part of the baby’s life. Talked to Brooke, wanted us to be a family again…. [she’s a little emotional here]
(How’d it go?) At door, she hugged my neck. Like she was happy to see me. Showing me pictures of the grandbaby. Excited about the baby. WE came into the living room and sat down. She in recliner and I was on couch. We began talking.
(Gun?) It is my gun. Had it for 23 years, long time. (Mother had it?) I got a DUI one time and she took it away from me. She gave it back. (Something happened to you … fears?) I got broke in on twice. Freaked me out real bad. Had it for protection. I slept with it with my finger on the trigger. I’m still scared.
(You and mother were talking. Did conversation turn bad?) Well, we talked about Brooke. She wasn’t happy with her and moved in with a guy. I told her Brooke was grown and she needed to let her be. She had jumped on Brooke’s friend …. told her… OBJECTION – NOT HER PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE. JUDGE – SUSTAINED.
(What did your mother say, about land?) We talked about Laurie. I told mother you can’t make girl move in two weeks time, Not enough to get trailer off the land. (How did that go?) Went into that she was going to sell it. I asked why. WEnt into long long story. I said you know it is mine, daddy gae it to me. She said it’s My F’in land, I paid for it. I let it go, just like the will. (What about will?) She changed it all my life.
(You talked about land, let it go. Will, let it go? What else?) Talked about aunt and uncle Bill Arnold. (Aware of verbal attack on aunt?) OBJECTION – JUDGE – LAY PREDICATE
(Were you present when she threatned aunt?) No, she told me about it. I told her … my aunt had died in January. I was real close to my aunt. I regret telling her … but that’s how I felt. (During this conversationk desire to hurt your mother?) no no no.
I had a wonderful life now. Everything had changed. It was a whole new way of life. I was happy. Wonderful man. Me and Brooke’s relationship got much better. Got it back.
(Conversation, cause you to get angry and hurt her?) No (Shoot her?) No. (At some point, decided to go?) Yes,knew she was upset when I told her that … uh,.. I had talked to her brother Jimmy Hicks. Told her … doesn’t want you go to back to his store. I don’t blame him. She got angry and cussing. I said if you keep acting like that, you can’t come to my party. I wanted her to come. She was so erratic, jumping on people. I couldn’t have that at my party … invited nice people. I had stopped cussing like that. Changed my way of life. I was raised where that was OK… to say MF and the F Word… around all the time. It wadn’t nothing. In alabama, it was love and happiness. It was different.
And when she … I told her that, I knew it was time to go. [ getting emotional] (WE’ve seen pictures …show them to you. Couch?) Yes. (Sitting on?) Yes. (Recliner?) She was sitting on. (Shows her pictures and points out furniture. When yuu decided to leave?) I got up and she was on the phone. I heard her say She ain’t dropped that damn baby yet. When she got off, I got up, reached into my purse on coffee table… in plain view. Gun was right on top. Carried it in hundreds of time. REached for my gun with left hand. To get keys out. She said Give me That Damn Gun. She reached out her hand. She was pulling on gun. It went off. Didn’t even know she was shot. She was fighting me like a bull. Standing up … so she pulled me down on top of her, wrestling in the floor. GShe turned gun around toward me… and I thought I was fixing to die … [crying] I said Mama don’t, Mama don’t. Struggled. Gun went off again.
All of a sudden, she quit. Had gun in my hand. Threw it on the couch. She called 911. (What then?) She got to the phone and called 911. Saying my daughter tried to kill me, she shot me … and … (Was she telling the truth?) NO NO I FREAKED OUT. THAT’S NOT TRUE. I COULDN’T BELIEVE SHE WAS SAYING THAT. I picked up the other phone to try to get it to come on and tell them that’s not what happened. I couldn’t get nobody on the phone. Found out later that two people couldn’t get on both phones for the same person. She kept on talking to them and I freaked out. I ran out the door. My mind was racing. I wasn’t thinking straight. Got in car and thought … you ain’t done nothing wrong. I turned around and I called my husband … not married at the time. Tellig him what happened.
I got in the drive way and saw the police car pull in. She told me to put the phone down. She asked where gun was. I told her, said she was going to handcuff me. Another policemen. They putme in the car. Prayed, Lord, let her be OK. They brought her out. It freaked me out. I was in shock. It was in slow motion. Helicopter came and it was so loud and I was so freaked out. My mind was racing but I kept praying … Serenity prayer, Lord’s Prayer… God, please let her be all right.
I was in shock. They diagnosed me with PTSD, I think I was in shock for a while. Cried all night when they told me the next day, I remember screaming. I don’t know, I was still in shock and asked to go to the funeral. Asked for my uncle. Didn’t see him for 4-5 weeks. I didn’t understand that. [ crying].
We had so many ups and downs. She’d done a lot of things. I’ve done a lot of things. I was wrong. When I took those 12 steps, I admitted alot of things. (You weren’t a fit person when you gave up your daughter?) No, had nervous breakdown, lost my job, lost my health. Prescritpion meds. Deserved to lose my child. Figured she was in a better place than with me.
(When you said She’s done it to me Big Time… were you telling the truth?) She came at me and then she called the law and said I tried to kill her. That’s how I felt – they believed her. I couldn’t believe she had done that. (Did you tell the police the next day?) I told them that … (At scene?) She told me to put the phone down, to handcuff me/
(Let’s talk about …) She took my child … felt like she took my land, daddy had give it to me. (Didn’t make you want to hurt her?) No. I’ve got a good life i Alabama. .. way I felt, that when she called the law and they believed her and arrested me… they took my freedom … in jail for something I didn’t do… they took my freedom. I was just so hurt. Felt responsible because it was my gun. Still feel responsible. Every day. Every day I feel guilty about that but I didn’t kill my Mama. I loved my Mama. (Despite everything?) Despiute everything, always loved Mama.
(realize now … OBJECTION – LEADING … SUSTAINED)
11:09 – JUDGE CALLS BRIEF BREAK / JURY EXITS
• • •
FIRST POST OF DAY
BOONEVILLE – Defendant Becky Jones’ husband and a female friend tried to paint a good picture of her life since she left Prentiss County, as Jones faces murder charges in her mother’s death.
Larry Putman, her husband, said she was a good and compassionate person since she’d gotten away from drugs and alcohol.
Linda Oakley, an older woman, said she’d been ready to share recipes with Jones the day Jane Jones was shot to death not far from Oakley’s home in 2010.
But persistent, aggressive questioning from Assistant DA Kimmie Kitchens seemed to get under their skin and put them on the defensive with sharp statements back at Kitchens.
Jones, 49, stands accused in the May 11, 2010, shooting death of 66-year-old Jane Jones at the older woman’s 439 Highway 4 East home in Prentiss County.
Defense attorney Rob Laher of Tupelo insists it was a terrible accident when Becky Jones’ 38-caliber pistol discharged as the two women wrestled for the gun the week after Mother’s Day.
The trial began Tuesday in Booneville.
• • •
(Below is a running account from the Prentiss County courtroom. Please excuse the typos and glitches likely as I type rapidly.)
Circuit Judge Jim Seth Pounds is presiding. This is Jones’ second trial – the first ended in a mistrial last October after she was discovered comatose in an Alabama hospital after a mysterious overnight health problem in her home.
Prosecutors are Kimmie Kitchens and Josh Wise. District Attorney Trent Kelly is seated in the audience.
9:06 A.M. – Judge enters courtroom. Says both sides worked late on jury instructions. Continue today to keep instructions from being too lengthy.
LAHER CALLS LARRY PUTMAN
PUTMAN – From Lexington, Ala. Becky Jones is my wife. Known her about 15 years. (Laher asks him to recall May 11, 2010.) Becky had trip planned to Mississippi … to visit a friend, pick up some recipes, spent night with Uncle Bill … next day with daughter and granddaughter.
(Know she would see her mother?) Nope. (Aware of relationship with her?) Yes, known them both same amount of time. (Anything different about Becky this day? Her well-being?) Becky … well, passive tenderhearted compassionate person. Her life had become about helping others. Several in audience to attest to that. (How to help others?) I’ve been involved with AA about 20 years … I’m in recovery as alcoholic and drug addict. When first starting dated Becky, she loved people I hung around with – we had a lot of fun. Different for Becky… different kind of fun being clean and sober. She made a lot of friends.
(What about personal life? Dealing with people better?) We’re involved with a lot of clean and sober friends. It affects your entire life, concept of fun changes. Don’t think about drinking and drugging anymore. Think about helping others, lots of people out there in sad shape with alcohol and drug problems. KITCHENS OBJECTS – IRRELEVANT. JUDGE – WHAT ABOUT THIS IS RELEVANT? LAHER – RELEVANT TO HER.
KITCHENS – CONTINUE OBJECTION. JUDGE – CONTINUE.
(Laher – Let’s focus on Becky. Relationship with her mother? Improved or same since you moved to Alabama?) … pause … Since I had known them, the relationship was always rocky. Crazy love-hate relationship. BEcky loved her mother, no matter what. Couldn’t understand why mother never happy. During this time, I learned a lot of things being around family. Heard about Becky’s sister… OBJECTION – SUSTAINED. JUDGE – JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION.
(Aware of en event in her past that seemed to cause problems with her mother?) Yes. (What was it?) When little sister gor ran over by the school bus. They were around 7 years old … OBJECTION – THIS HAPPENED 40-PLUS YEARS AGO. THIS IS OUTSIDE … JUDGE – SUSTAINED
(Aware of problems … did Becky try to involve Jane in life of her granddaughter?) Yes. (Becky try to reconcile things with Brooke?) Yes. (On day in question, knew Becky was gone to MS?) Yes. (To mother?) No. She always told me. (Your work?) Retired. Was a pipefitter and business at home.
(You ever witness any altercations between Becky and Jane?) Altercation, you mean touching? (No, verbal.) Yes, nothing that got real involved. Jane would restrain herself around me and other people. She had a Mr. Hyde … (Uncommon?) No, it was pretty common. (What about Mr Hyde personality?) Jekyll was good, Hyde was hidden in dark and comes out suddenly. (See that in Jane?) I saw some flashes of it. Like I said, around me and other people … (During relationship … ) She asked me, why doesn’t my mother love me? I’d say, your mother loves you, baby. I can’t hurt Becky.
(This has been difficult?) Yes … tough… I love her. I know what happened. 9:21
KITCHENS TO CROSS-EXAMINE
(Kitchens – you say defendant is an innocent party in this relationship?) … pause … (Sir, I’m asking you a question) I hear you, I’m thinkng about it. Innocent party – Becky wasn’t an angel. (She’s got a bad temper.) Jane Jones? (No sir, your wife.) No. (Remember this statement … your testimony …) In bond hearing? (Yes June 2010.) Was that it? (You tell me.
JUDGE – Make sure you don’t talk over each other. Let other finish before you can talk.
(Are you Larry Putman?) That’s me. (On direct examination by Mr. Laher… he asked about her temper? Your answer, a bad temper. See that?) I see it, but I didn’t say that. I said a bad temper? (You said, a bad temper.) I see what it says.
(You’re trying to make it out that defendant has changed her personality… no problems anymore?) No. (Is she still using drugs?) Only prescriptions. She has problems. (Hasn’t she self-medicated?) What? (Pills not prescribed to her?) Only known her to take her prescribed drugs. That’s what i’m saying. (You don’t know if she’s self-medicating?) She’s not self-medicating. She has it over to the jail. (Be surprised if she admitted to self-medicating? Pills not prescribed to her. Would that surprise you?) Yeh, that would surprise me.
(Day Jane Jones was killed, did you talk to defendant immediately after?) … pause… immediately after… please repeat question. (Did you talk to defendant right after the shooting?) Yes, I believe I did. (You know you did. She called you. There was 911 call by Jane Jones 2 minutes before defendant called you?) Yes, I remember exactly what was said. (Did she tell you she had shot her mother?) I don’t think …. she said that.
(In call, she doesn’t tell you she shot her mother?) Wasn’t there a struggle? (Weren’t you in Alabama?) JUDGE – ASKS HIM TO REMOVE GUM FROM MOUTH. PLEASE BE RESPONSIVE ABOUT WHAT YOU PERSONALLY KNOW. Putman – I’m trying to.
(When this happened, were you in Alabama?) Yes. (Took place in Booneville, MS?) Yes. (Phone call 2 minutes after, she didn’t tell you she shot her mother?) Not sure. That’s been three years ago. (Don’t remember?) Like asking me what I ate. … couldn’t do that.
(Did you call 911?) No, don’t think so. (Is this funny to you?) No, is this irritating to you? (I’m not asking to think quick, just tell the truth.) What I’m trying to do. (You’re under oath. Did she say she was going to mother’s house?) No, not unusual. She’d call me from Uncle Bill. (Did she know mother was fixing to sell the land, before she left?) I think her and Brooke and Jim her uncle, others talked about Jane talking about selling out, you know. And, uh … (Who?) I think Jim, Brooke maybe. Had conversation with several people. I wasn’t in the middle of all that. Pretty sure Jim knew about it. (Before she went to Mississippi? Defendant.) Yeh, they had been talking about it for a week or so.
(OK, so when Brooke said her conversation with mother that day wasn’t first time?) OBJECTION – CAN’T TESTIFY ABOUT WHAT HE DOESN’T KNOW. (Planning to stay that night?) She usually stayed with Uncle Bill. She would tell me what she was going to do. I assumed she was going to spend the night. (You think that it was … she would spend the night and do something next day with her daughter and granddaughter?) That’s what I thought. She’d always call and let me know.
(This property you’re talking about … did you know what’s now?) Far as I know, everything .. Brooke lives there. (Has land been sold?) No, Brooke lives there .. I don’t know everything about this whole deal.
9:34 – LAHER RE-DIRECT
(Laher – Larry … know Becky was going to Mississippi?) Yes. (Assumed she’d spent night?) Yes. (Going to meet people here?) Yes. (Not trip just to see her mother?) No. (Becky has issues?) Yes, history. (Made progress with those issues?) Yes. OBJECTION – LEADING. JUDGE – DON’T LEAD WITNESS.
(You don’t know everything about land?) No, Brooke still living in the house so I assume it hasn’t been sold. (Know about …OBJECTION – SUSTAINED
WITNESS EXCUSED 9:36
LAHER CALLS LINDA HARDWOOD OAKLEY
OAKLEY – Lives since 1978 near Jane Jones’ home. Just across the way. I can see it in winter. (Spoken to Becky about that day?) She’d called about jewelry party. Called me Monday before that Tuesday and I said we could have lunch. (Planning to see her Tuesday?) Yes. To give her recipes, I’m a good cook. Planned that. (Aware that Becky had a troubled life?) Yes. (Know where she was living?) Across way in a mobile home. (Alabama or Mississippi?) Oh, she was living in Alabama. Got help in Alabama. Had lived in mobile home across the road. We were friends.
(Alabama?) She became a totally different person. Helping people, in AA almost every day, in church. OBJECTION – WHAT SHE KNOWS. JUDGE – LAY PROPER QUESTIONS
(Laher – Did you see her after she moved?) Yes, calm person. Didn’t act like she was on drugs. Play with my children. (Aware of relationship with her mother?) Yes. (Talked to Jane about it?) Jane would come over to Becky’s and whole neighborhood could hear her rant and rave – call her terrible names. Heard her say the wrong daughter got runover. It was a horrible situation …why she wanted to move away and become a better person. (Questions about Becky to see you?) No, I had already cooked some things and put in the freezer for her to taste. I warned her about putting money into a jewelry party – I had already lost money in it.
CROSS EXAM BY KITCHENS 9:43
(Defendant didn’t use illegal drugs in Alabama?) Yes. (Surprised to know she has said she took prescription meds not prescribed to her?) Well, she didn’t abuse anything after she went to Alabama. I don’t have any idea. I don’t know anything about it. She didn’t act like she was using it. (Surprise to you?) I only know to say the truth. (Did the defendant blame her mother for all her problems?) No, she really didn’t. She never spoke ill will of her mother. I know her mother started her on drugs, I saw that. (Blame her mother?) I blame my mother and father for way I grew up. (You shot your father and mother?) No. I don’t know she killed her mother. JUDGE – MA’AM, JUST ANSWER QUESTIONS.
(Kitchens – did she blame her mother for all her problems?) Blamed her for getting her on drugs. (For losing land or job?) Don’t know. (Blame her for anything else?) I don’t know. (You and Becky are good friends?) Yes, I tried to help her. (Good enough that you have communicated a lot while she’s been awaiting trial.) I have, letters, cards. (Did she write to you?) Maybe once a week or so. (Kitchens shows her letter?) Yes.
(Asks her to read letter…. she did it to me again, big time. Blaming her mother?) You… that’s out of context. I didn’t take it that way. I knew their relationshp. (Did she say that?) Yes, also to say she was fixing to leave to come to my house.
LAHER – NO QUESTIONS 9:48
• • •
WEDNESDAY’S REPORT:
BOONEVILLE – Becky Jones’ story of her mother’s fatal shooting may be all she’s got to save herself from life in prison.
Whether she’ll testify today isn’t known, but a few trial watchers predict she must.
Jones, 49, stands accused in the May 11, 2010, shooting death of 66-year-old Jane Jones at the older woman’s 439 Highway 4 East home in Prentiss County.
Defense attorney Rob Laher of Tupelo insists it was a terrible accident when Becky Jones’ 38-caliber pistol discharged as the two women wrestled for the gun the week after Mother’s Day.
“My daughter shot me,” Jane Jones was heard via a 911 recording to the county emergency dispatcher. “Please send help.”
She died a short time later as she was brought by ambulance to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo with clean-through gunshots to her abdomen and right arm/shoulder area.
State prosecutors Kimmie Kitchens and Josh Wise rested their case at mid-afternoon after testimony from an NMMC surgeon, firearms marker expert and a forensic pathologist.
Earlier in the day, Judge Jim Seth Pounds threatened Laher with a contempt of court citation after the attorney’s aggressively repetitive questioning of the crime scene’s lead investigator, Deputy Roy Reagan.
When the defense got its turn, Becky Jones’ daughter, Brooke Creech, spent much of her time on the stand arguing with prosecutors and denying she could remember much of what she’d said in sworn statements three years ago.
The state claims Jones killed her mother after years of personal conflict. When Becky Jones abused drugs years ago, Jane Jones got custody of Creech and control over property Becky Jones continued to consider hers.
This is Jones’ second trial on the murder charge. Last October, Judge Pounds declared a mistrial after Jones was hospitalized when she was discovered unconscious in her Alabama home.
On cross-examination, Creech couldn’t remember her cell phone numbers or her conversations with her mother the day “of the incident.” She claimed that earlier when her grandmother found out Creech was pregnant, she threw her to the floor, kicked her in the stomach and said she didn’t care if the baby died.
She also claimed to have discovered a bullet hole in the wall of her grandmother’s house – a hole Laher got into hot water when he questioned Reagan about.
Creech said that after her mother was attacked and held at gunpoint years before, she always carried a pistol, even into the hospital when Creech had her baby.
On the trial’s first day, Laher told the jury that Jane Jones lunged at her daughter when she removed the pistol from her purse as she looked for her car keys.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com