Haines City man convicted of first-degree murder for stabbing his wife to death

JURY VERDICT: Haines City man convicted of first-degree murder for stabbing his wife to death

Tommy Lee Jones raised a 12-inch knife above his head, snuck up behind his wife and stabbed her with it.

Tommy Jones, 53, of Haines City.

He wrestled 57-year-old Juanita Jones to the ground, stabbing her nine times. He stabbed her in the shoulder arm and head – leaving the tip of the knife embedded in her skull – but the fatal blow was the 4-inch stab wound he left in her heart.

A jury found Jones guilty August 16 of first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

He was sentenced to life in prison for both first-degree murder and attempted second-degree. He also received 15 years for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Assistant State Attorney Kristie Ducharme walked the jury through the details of the brutal attack on July 21, 2013. Juanita Jones was preparing Sunday dinner just after midnight so it would be ready when they got home from church the next day.

Floyd Ohara, one of Juanita’s sons, was in the living room and heard the knife drawer open in the kitchen. Arius Mitchell, his girlfriend, heard a strange noise and turned around to see Tommy standing behind his wife with his arm raised and a knife in his hand.

Mitchell saw blood spray across the kitchen as they both watched Jones stab his wife.

Juanita Jones tried to get away from her husband as he attacked her, but she slipped on her blood and Jones continued to shove the knife into her.

Ohara realized it was too late to save his mother, so he ran for the door. Tommy Jones chased after him, stabbed him in the arm and locked the door.

In order to wake his other brothers, Ohara started yelling and beating on the walls.

“Tommy stabbed Momma,” he screamed.

Assistant State Attorney Kristie Ducharme addresses jurors during closing
statements August 16. Jones was found guilty and sentenced to life.

Joaquin Jackson heard his brother’s cries for help and opened his door to see his mother’s feet on the ground in the hallway. He looked up to see Tommy Jones with a knife in his hand – Jackson charged him.

Ohara and Jackson fought with Tommy until they were able to get the knife away and keep him restrained. But during the struggle, Tommy kept slashing at them with the knife, and he stabbed Jackson in the head.

Police arrived to detain Jones, and Ohara and Jackson were transferred to the hospital to be treated. Officers who handcuffed Jones noticed that the only injuries he had were lacerations on the inside of his hands, which is a sign that he was the one holding the knife during the murder.

The defense argued that those wounds were from Jones attempting to defend himself. Jones’ attorney told jurors that alcohol was consumed by both Juanita and Tommy, and that Tommy’s actions were a response to her charging him with the knife.

But Ducharme reminded the jury that at least two people saw Tommy stab Juanita from behind.

“(Ohara) saw Tommy stabbing his mother,” Ducharme said.

In addition to the eyewitness accounts, Jones was the only one who didn’t have wounds consistent with being attacked with a knife. The lacerations on the inside of his hands are consistent with someone whose hand slipped while forcefully using a knife.

The defense also claimed there wasn’t enough testimony or evidence to prove Jones intended to hurt his wife.

Ducharme told jurors the best way to determine his intentions is to look at his actions: Jones snuck up to his wife with a 12-inch knife and stabbed her while her back was turned. He repeatedly stabbed her after she began to fight back, stopping only when she was dead.

“A person does not stab another human being nine times unless they intended to kill that person,” Ducharme said. “He didn’t stab her in her arm or leg but in areas of her body more susceptible to injury. … She was his intended target. That’s what makes her death premeditated.”