A South Carolina father was found guilty on Tuesday of murdering his five young children, allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
Timothy Jones Jr. showed no reaction as the Lexington County jury delivered five guilty verdicts for murder after considering the case over two days. The same jury will return Thursday to hear arguments from prosecutors and Jones’ lawyers before deciding his fate.
Jones, 37, was a single father and computer engineer who, after killing one of his children, decided to kill the other four rather than allow them to end up with with his ex-wife, prosecutors said. His lawyers are expected to argue that his mental problems were worsened by drug use and his wife’s infidelity.
In confessions and statements to psychiatrists, as reported by The State newspaper, Jones claimed that on the night of Aug. 28, 2014, he had an angry confrontation with 6-year-old Nahtahn after the child broke an electrical outlet in his home. To punish him, Jones forced the boy to do various strenuous exercises for a long time. He claimed that he later found the boy dead in his bed.
Prosecutors said that after the first child’s death, Jones considered what to do for several hours before deciding to strangle the other four children, all between the ages of 1-8 years old. He claimed to have done so to send the children to heaven together.
Jones then wrapped the children’s bodies in plastic and traveled with them around the Southeast, making erratic trips and buying synthetic marijuana, according to prosecutor Rick Hubbard.
He also confessed to researching countries that don’t extradite suspects back to the U.S. and how to disintegrate bodies faster, as well as playing his oldest daughter’s favorite song, in the nine days before he dumped the bodies on a hillside in rural Alabama.
“He left his kids out there in bags,” Hubbard said. “They looked like garbage.”
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The jury could have determined Jones to be either guilty, guilty but mentally ill, not guilty by reason of insanity, or not guilty, according to WYFF in South Carolina.
Jones’ lawyers attempted to make the case that Jones was deeply in the throes of mental illness when he killed his children, saying that his grasp on sanity was damaged by his wife leaving him for a teenager and further broken by alcohol and synthetic marijuana use.
“He’s crazy,” lawyer Boyd Young told jurors. “You can’t rationalize crazy. But at the time, he thought it was the right thing to do.”
But prosecutors said Jones knew that what he was doing was wrong.
“The worst of the worst know killing your babies is obscene, outrageous and absolutely morally unacceptable,” Hubbard said in court. “Jones did that in a matter of seconds.”
Contributing: The Associated Press.
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