Appeal rejected for Lexington man sentenced to death in murder of his five children
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Supreme Court rejected an appeal made by Tim Jones Jr., who received the death penalty in 2019 for the murder of his five children.
Jones was convicted for the August 2014 murders of his children Mera, 8, Elias, 7, Nahtahn, 6, Gabriel, 2, and Abigail, 1 “by means of strangulation and/or other violent means or instruments,” according to the indictment.
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Jones pled insanity “as a result of mental disease or defect, lacked the capacity to distinguish moral or legal right from moral or legal wrong,” but a jury found Jones guilty on five counts of murder and he was given the death penalty.
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After his conviction, his defense made a motion for a mistrial, accusing Deputy Solicitor Shawn Graham of getting choked up while giving the state’s opening statements. That motion was denied.
Another appeal was submitted to the South Carolina Supreme Court. The direct appeal document stated Jones raised eight issues centering on three points: juror qualification, requested voir dire and a related jury instruction, and evidentiary rulings made during the guilt and sentencing phases.
The supreme court agreed there were errors made in the trial that ended up giving him the death penalty; however, in the opinion written by Justice George C. James, “they were harmless.”
The appeal stated one of the major errors was allowing gruesome autopsy photos. The appeal argued it made the jury make their decision based on emotion rather than the facts of the case.
The supreme court found that the prosecution used the photos solely to create an emotional impact and had “no probative value” and even showed children’s dead, decomposed bodies that had appeared eaten by animals.
The next steps are for Jones’ lawyers to file a petition for a rehearing within 15 days.
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