Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – A balding Tim Jones wearing a white shirt, black tie with stripes, and horned-rimmed glasses appeared more like a mid-level accountant than a killer dad as he sat in court Wednesday while the prosecution began building its case against him. The state believes he killed his five children in Red Bank in 2014 and rode around with their bodies in his vehicle for days. They say he finally dumped them alongside a road in Alabama before driving on. He was later stopped at a traffic safety checkpoint in Mississippi where he was arrested and eventually confessed to killing the children. His attorneys are using insanity as his defense in the death penalty case.
Wednesday’s witnesses were the first blocks in the foundation of the state prosecutor’s case. They’ve called an employee of the afterschool program at a Red Bank elementary school, a store clerk who saw Jones days after the children were dead, and a former supervisor at Jones’ job, and a law enforcement officer with decades of service. Each witness told the jurors a little more about Jones before and after the children’s murders. Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard and his staff are trying to show beyond a reasonable doubt that even though Jones may have had some strange or different ideas about parenting, or that he suffered from some emotional problems after having a breakup of his marriage and problems with drugs in his life, he didn’t ever appear to be confused about what was right or wrong before committing the murders; He wasn't insane. Likewise, the defense will do their best to show he was completely out of touch with reality and didn’t understand what he was doing was wrong when he committed the act; He was insane.
One witness cried as she recounted the children right up to the day that they went missing. Another told of the stench of death on Jones as he came into a store to buy some items after the murder. Although he may have been different than other parents some testified, the prosecution is trying to prove he never gave any indication that he was crazed or displaying any sign of a deep mental illness. This is something that the defense will need to do if they are to prove he was insane at the time of the trial.
This is just the beginning of what’s expected to be a long trial. A trial where the defense will try and show in their own way that Jones had lost his sanity and didn’t know right from wrong when he acted in such a heinous manner. This is a steep hill to climb for the attorneys, defending a man that seems to have tried to hide what he had done. It makes it even more difficult given the fact that the trial is being held in ultra-conservative Lexington County, a county that has a long history of returning the sentence of death during the penalty phase of many previous trials.
The case will proceed slowly as each side will carefully lay out step by step what went on and every small detail of what happened before, during, and after the children’s deaths. One of the smallest details could be what determines if Jones lives in prison or is eventually put to death. Don’t expect fireworks from either side yet, but as the foundation is finished and the prosecution begins to build its case toward conclusion, more passion will likely seep into the trial and both sides will spar over what state of mind this man was in when he committed this crime. It is one of the most heinous in the history of Lexington County, continues for weeks to come.
Pool Photo: The State