On Tuesday, a jury in South Carolina convicted a man of killing his five young children in 2014, dismissing claims that he was mentally ill at the time of the murders.
The jury deliberated for six hours before finding Timothy Jones Jr., 38, guilty of the quintuple slaying. Jones’ legal team unsuccessfully argued that he had schizophrenia and couldn’t tell right from wrong when he killed his kids, according to The State.
Jones was found to have strangled his four children Elias, 7, Merah, 8, Gabriel, 2, and Elaine, 1, with a belt and his bare hands. It remains unclear how his fifth child, Nahtahn, 6, was killed. All five bodies were dumped in rural Alabama.
The Post and Courier reported that Jones was arrested in Mississippi days after the murders and led authorities to his kids’ decomposing bodies. At one point, he told authorities that he strangled the youngest two children with a belt because his hands were too big for their necks.
Jones claimed Nahtahn died when he forced him to do an excessive number of pushups. Ex-forensic pathologist Dr. Patricia Ross testified Monday testified that Nahtahn succumbed to “homicidal violence” but she couldn’t dismiss strangulation or excessive exercise as contributing factors to his death due to the state of the toddler’s decomposition when the autopsy was performed, according to WCAU.
While Jones pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, The State reported that jurors also had the option to find him guilty, not guilty, and guilty but mentally ill. Jones didn’t testify but the jury heard video footage of him confessing to killing his children.
Thirty witnesses for the prosecution and 23 for the defense testified during the two-week trial. One person who took the stand was court-appointed psychiatrist Dr. Richard Frierson, who testified that he didn’t believe Jones was schizophrenic and that was possibly suffering from substance-induced psychosis when he confessed to killing his children, according to WACH.
Frierson asserted that Jones could differentiate right from wrong when he killed his four children after Nahtahn allegedly died during exercise, according to WACH. The doctor offered that Jones panicked and killed the remaining children, the news station reported.
In light of Tuesday’s conviction, the 12-person jury must now decide whether they’ll recommend death or life in prison without parole. The sentencing phase of the trial is scheduled to begin on Thursday.
[Featured image: Lexington County Sheriff’s Department]