Van Buren Mother Found Guilty in Child’s Murder
A Sequoyah County jury found Heather Jones, 20, of Van Buren, guilty of second-degree murder and and child neglect in the death of her one-year-old daughter.
Jones was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs after nearly five hours of jury deliberation Friday.The jury also found her guilty of first-degree robbery and robbery conspiracy. The jury recommended the second-degree murder sentence of 15 years in prison, five years for robbery, a $2,500 fine for conspiracy, and one year for child neglect. With the combined charges, she could face up to 21 years behind bars.
In closing arguments Friday both defense attorney Monte Johnson and First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp asked jurors to base their verdict on whether or not Jones knew the robbery was going to take place and if she willingly brought her daughter along on the what police say was a drug deal turned robbery.
“I believed that she deserved a life sentence,” says Thorp.
Wednesday morning Jones testified that she knowingly drove Aaron Bowen and Michael Clemente to Devin Jeremiah’s home north of Roland on Feb. 26, 2010, to get drugs. Police say the men beat and robbed Jeremiah.
Jones’ daughter, Elaine Keene, was struck by a bullet when Jeremiah fired at the vehicle as they sped away.
“I believe that the case was there for first degree murder, but they didn’t agree,” says Thorp, “They did give her a very stiff punishment of 15 years and she did lose her daughter in the case as well.”
Jeremiah was charged with second degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill. However, he was only found guilty of one count of shooting with intent to kill and sentenced to serve eight years with four suspended.
Bowen and Clemente were initially charged with first degree murder in the child’s death, but in exchange for their testimony at Jeremiah’s and Jones’ trials accepted a plea agreement that dropped four of their charges and reduced the remaining two to second-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery.
Jones will be sentenced July 23.