LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - After more than a month of testimony, the second phase of the Timothy Jones Jr. trial is coming to a close.
On Thursday, attorneys will present closing arguments to the jury, as prosecutors push for the death penalty and defense attorneys seek mercy for the 37-year-old father convicted of brutally murdering his five children in 2014.
Last week, it took the jury six hours to return a guilty verdict on all five counts included in the indictment against Jones. Since then, prosecutors have painted Jones as an intelligent, narcissistic, controlling father and husband who threated his ex-wife, Amber Kyzer, telling her she would never gain full custody of the children.
But defense attorneys point to generations of sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug and alcohol use within the Jones family, much of which a social historian testified Jones Jr. was exposed to. His mother, institutionalized with schizophrenia for several decades, allegedly bathed Jones Jr. in cold water as a baby, denied him food and let him cry unattended for hours. All of these influences, attorneys argue, created feelings of abandonment for Jones.
The wife of Tim Jones Sr., Julie Jones, testified on Wednesday, explaining to the jury her close relationship with her stepson, going as far as to say she considers him her blood.
“I love him very much, he’s my son,” she said. “I don’t know when it happened or how somewhere along the line there is no “step. He’s my son.”
While Jones was living in Mississippi and going to school, she testified to spending every weekend with the grandchildren, when she would take them to the park, swimming and throw birthday parties. She said she visited her stepson when he was living in Pennsylvania, attending the birth of the second child, Elias.
When Jones and his children moved to South Carolina for his new job at Intel, visits became fewer and fewer, but she testified to visiting the children at their Red Bank home every year.
The last time Julie Jones saw her grandchildren was in December of 2012 when Tim Jones and his children celebrated Christmas with his parents. After an argument with his stepsister, Jones packed up his children and left, she testified and didn’t speak to his father for a year and a half.
Their conversation, taking place in August of 2014, mere weeks before the five children were murdered.
“When that phone rang, my life changed on a dime,” she testified. “Tim answered the phone, he was in the hallway, and I heard him say, you have Timmy? I went to him and I could hear him say, but we don’t have the children. I dropped to my knees—and said ‘my god.’
Under cross-examination, she told Deputy Solicitor Shawn Graham she and her husband do not regret helping investigators in Mississippi, because with their help, they were able to locate the children.
She told the jury she believes Jones Jr. can repay his debt to society in prison, using his intelligence to help other inmates further their education.
The jury also heard testimony from Tyler Jones and Travis Jones, both stepbrothers of Jones Jr. Despite being significantly younger than their older brother, both men said he always looked out for them and encouraged them to better themselves through education.
“I do not want to see him lose his life, I’ve already loss so many people in my life,” Travis Jones said. “lost my favorite uncle when I was a kid, I lost my aunt Elaine when I was a kid. Now I have to live with this constant fear I’m going to lose my brother after I lost my nephews and nieces, please, please don’t make my family endure this.”
At one point, making eye contact with his brother, both Jones and Jones Jr. became sobbing.
“I know he did what he did but the man who did that is not the man who is sitting right, here right now,” he said. I’m sorry, Tim, but I sit here and look at you and tell you-you're not all there anymore brother, I’m sorry you have to go through this too.”
“I know what he did was horrible, he took five of our family members, don’t take one more from us. This family can’t take it,” Tyler Jones told the jury.
Closing arguments will get underway Thursday morning, with deliberations set to get underway afterward.