Thursday, 19 May 2011

SBS: OHIO: John Jones sentenced

Dave Nethers  May 12, 2011
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove on Thursday sentenced John Jones to 15 years to life in prison for the murder of his five-month-old daughter, Jada Ruiz.
Jones, 18, was convicted by a jury after a week long trial in which they heard expert testimony that the child suffered irreversable brain damage and fractures.
Prosecutors said the fatal injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, and that Jones inflicted them while he was watching the infant in March 2010.
Jones' attorneys on Thursday initially asked Judge Cosgrove for a new trial, arguing that the guilty verdict was "not sustained by sufficient evidence."
Judge Cosgove denied the motion saying "this trial involved medical testimony regarding numerous fractures to Jada Ruiz Jones, bilateral hemmhorages behind her eyes, she had bi-lateral breakage of the bones."
"From the time this child was born, until she died, quite frankly, her life must have been a living hell. She must have been in pain every day," the judge continued.
During trial, defense attorneys questioned whether the baby's mother, Deja Ruiz, could have been responsible for Jada's death, inflicting the injuries before she left the home more than an hour before Jones called for help.
At sentencing, Judge Cosgrove rejected that argument.
"It is impossible, according to medical testimony and according to common sense, that you can sustain these life threatening injuries causing the baby to be unresponsive, not breathing, have no pulse, when EMS arrived...and according to some testimony presented by the defense, that the baby had been in that state for an hour," Cosgrove concluded
When asked to give a statement for himself on Thursday, Jones told the court "I didn't do nothing wrong, and that's the honest to God truth. And whether you believe me or not, I shouldn't be the one standing here."
Throughout the sentencing, Deja Ruiz sat quietly in the back of the courtroom surrounded by family and friends.
Her mother, JoNetta Ruiz, attempted to read a victim impact statement she had written but was too emotional. The statement was read instead by a victim advocate.
After sentencing, JoNetta Ruiz told Fox 8 News that all she really wanted to hear in court from Jones was an apology.
"I prayed for an apology, we asked for forgiveness but it never came out of his mouth," Ruiz said.
For several months after the injury, Jada Ruiz was kept alive on life support while her father and mother battled over whether or not it should be discontinued.
Jones had already been charged with felonious assault. Attorneys for Deja Ruiz argued that Jones did not want the infant to remain on life support for her own well being, but because he knew if she died he could be charged with murder.
In July, a judge ruled the life support should be discontinued.
JoNetta Ruiz said after sentencing that the four months during which it became clear the baby was unable to recover were difficult.
"It was hard," she said. "To have to see her every day like that, it's a hurting feeling, especially when you know that conditions were getting worse they were not getting better."
"It was just too much to handle. I feel deep in my heart that we made the right decision as a family for Jada," JoNetta said.
Jones, who was 17 at the time of Jada's death, was initially charged as a juvenile.
Prosecutor Teri Burnside said on Thursday that trying him for the murder as an adult was the right thing to do.
"As I told the jury in closing arguments, this is a sad situation all the way around," Burnside told Fox 8 News after sentencing. "But thankfully, the jury came back and gave Jada, that little baby, some justice."
The sentence means Jones will not be eligible for parole until after he spends at least 15 years in prison, with credit for the 14 months he has already served.
After that, it is still possible he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
His grandmother, Christine Billings, was also in court for the sentencing. She told Fox 8 News afterward that she still believes in her grandson and his innocence.
"We are going to appeal to the highest court in this land, until someone can tell me that my grandson is not innocent, somebody can prove to me that my grandson is guilty, and no one had proven it yet," said Billings

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