Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

T.J. Jones Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on T.J. Jones, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2002.

On Oct. 28, 1994 T.J. Jones was sentenced to death for the capital murder of Willard Davis during a robbery, which occurred in Longview, Texas, on Feb. 2, 1994. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On Feb. 2, 1994, around 1:00 p.m., 75-year-old Willard Davis was found lying in the street in front of his home in Longview. Davis had been shot once in the head and his car had been stolen. The police arrested T.J. Jones several blocks from the crime scene after he abandoned the victim's car. When apprehended, Jones had the murder weapon, a .357 revolver, in his sweatshirt pocket. The weapon was fully loaded, except for one round, cocked, and ready to fire.

After his arrest, Jones confessed to the police that he and three friends had been drinking at a friend's house around 12:15 p.m. Jones asked his friends if they were "down for a jack," meaning did they want to steal a car. The friends agreed, and the four of them went to a known gang-house to obtain a gun to use in the "jack." According to Jones' confession, they saw Davis backing out of his driveway in a red car. Jones approached the car and told Davis to step outside. Jones stated that, although he had the gun out, he was not pointing it at Davis at that time. Davis got out of the car, and Jones' three friends got in. Jones stated that Davis was standing at the back of the car when Jones told him to get into the car. Davis said he would not because of his wife, or something to that effect. Jones then pointed the gun to the side of Davis' head and tried to get him into the car so they could take him somewhere and rob him. When Davis would not get into the car, Jones said that he decided to shoot the gun in an attempt to scare him. Jones claimed that as soon as he shot the gun, he got scared, jumped in the car, and quickly drove off. Jones claims he was not aware that he had hit Davis, and that he did not intend to kill him, only to scare him.

The medical examiner testified that Davis died of a single gunshot wound to the head, which entered near the center of his forehead next to his left eyebrow. A firearm expert testified that the gun did not go off accidentally; it could not have been fired unless the trigger was pulled. Forensic evidence showed that Jones was two to three feet from Davis when the gun was fired.

Jones' cell mate from the Gregg County Jail testified that Jones told him that he and his accomplices saw Davis walking to his car and approached him. Davis told Jones and his accomplices that they could not have his car and that they would have to kill him to get it. Jones told his cell mate, in a very calm manor, that he then shot Davis.

Jones' mother testified that she first began having trouble with Jones when he was 16 years old, which was the same time that Jones moved into the gang-house. Jones denied being a member of a gang, and in his defense offered the testimony of Heather McLane, the 16-year-old mother of his child, who testified that she had lived in the gang-house with Jones and his friends, and did not consider herself to be a member of a gang. When asked if Jones considered himself a member of a gang, she replied: "Not that [she] knew of."

Tom Allen, a clinical and forensic psychologist, testified regarding Jones' propensity for future violence. Allen felt that Jones posed a threat to society to commit future acts of violence. Allen's opinion was based on Jones' criminal history, particularly his willingness to use unnecessary violence to obtain property, the number of times Jones had been arrested in connection with criminal activity, his lack of education and job skills, his age, and his use of illegal drugs.

In defense, Jones called Craig Moore, a clinical psychologist. Moore concluded that Jones was competent, below average in intelligence, but not retarded, profoundly immature ("needy," dependent), not trustful of others, and had a conduct disorder, which is the failure to acquire rule-abiding behavior. Moore also concluded that Jones presents "a distinct propensity for future risks to society," but that Jones -- at 17 year old -- was still developing-- and there was no way to determine his long-range behavior. Moore stated that Jones had been profoundly affected by being reared in a one-parent home and his failure to "bond" with his mother. Moore also stated that Jones' use of marijuana laced with embalming fluid was addictive and could have caused brain damage, particularly in the areas of the brain affecting judgment and reasoning. Finally, Moore testified that Jones did not have a normal ability to show emotion, did not feel good about himself, and was preoccupied with guilt, grief, and sadness.

Pamela Jones testified that Jones was her only child and that his father left six months after Jones was born. Pamela Jones began a relationship with another man when Jones was approximately 10 or 11 years old. Jones would "hum and shake" when Ms. Jones and her boyfriend would argue and fight. Although Jones was close to his grandmother, he did not show any emotion when she died. Ms. Jones said that Jones was unable to participate in gymnastics because she could not afford to pay for it. She also stated that Jones preferred to play Nintendo and with action figures, which was uncharacteristic given Jones' age. Will Jackson, Jr., Jones' grandfather, testified that Jones was a "follower."

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Oct. 24, 1994 - Jones was tried in the 124th Judicial District Court of Gregg County, Texas, and found guilty of the capital murder of Willard Davis while in the course of committing robbery.

Oct. 28, 1994 - After a separate punishment phase, the court sentenced Jones to death.

Dec. 18, 1996 - Jones' conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. That court affirmed Jones' conviction and sentence.

Dec. 11, 1997 - Jones filed an application for post conviction writ of habeas corpus in the state court.

Jan. 13, 1998 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the recommendation of the trial court and denied state habeas relief.

Aug. 30, 1999 - Jones filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court.

Jan. 11, 2001 - The district court entered final judgment dismissing Jones' federal petition for writ of habeas corpus and denying all relief. However, the district court issued Certificate of Appealability (COA) as to two issues: Jones' claim that a juror was influenced by out of court information, and his claim that the trial court improperly excused a venire person for cause. Jones filed a motion to enlarge COA to include nine additional issues, which both the district court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied.

Sept. 19, 2001 - After oral arguments, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's denial of relief.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

TDCJ records show that Jones has no prior criminal record as an adult.

The evidence during the punishment phase showed that Jones was arrested for breaking into and vandalizing a middle school in Longview when he was 14 or 15 years old.

Jones was arrested and confessed to throwing a large concrete block through the front glass door of a sporting goods store, then stealing clothing from the store.

Jones was also found in possession of baseball trading cards, taken from a neighbor's home during a burglary. Jones claimed a friend gave him the cards but the friend could not be located.

The record does not indicate that Jones was ever charged with any of these crimes, or that any of these burglaries resulted in a conviction or probation.

Jones was a suspected member of a gang that was known in the law enforcement community to engage in various criminal activities, such as assaults, sexual assaults, illegal weapons possession, and illegal drug possession.

Three days before the murder of Willard Davis, Jones repeatedly shot the clerk of a convenience store before robbing him. Jones shot the clerk first in the head, then several more times as the victim lay on the ground. The victim, who was struck in the head, chest, arm and shoulder, survived but is permanently disabled.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please log on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

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