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Man found guilty
In Dec. 30 slaying
Timothy Montrell Jones
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
A Martinsville man was found guilty of second-degree murder Monday in Henry County Circuit Court.
Timothy Montrell Jones, 24, of 61 Liza Court, Martinsville, was found guilty of one count of second-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 30 shooting death of Anthony Tyrone Hayden, 37, of 85 Jonathan Way, Martinsville.
Jones also was found guilty of one count each of use of a firearm in commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted violent felon in connection with the Dec. 30 incident.
Jones initially was charged with second-degree murder, but he was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Dawn Futrell said in an interview.
Judge David Williams said that in Virginia, homicides are presumed second-degree murder and the commonwealth’s attorney bears the burden of proof for the charge to be increased to first-degree murder. Premeditation and deliberation are the distinguishing features between first-degree murder and second-degree murder, according to an article in the Washington and Lee Law Review.
In rejecting the defense request for dismissal on the basis of self-defense, Williams ruled that witness Letitia Little’s testimony — she said that Jones and Hayden were about 36 feet apart when she saw Jones shoot Hayden in the back — generally was supported by physical evidence at the scene. Williams also said Jones gave conflicting statements after his arrest and that Jones fled the scene.
Williams ordered a presentencing report and scheduled sentencing for Oct. 10.
The shooting occurred in an area between Liza Court and Jonathan Way in a mobile home park south of Martinsville on the evening of Dec. 30 when it was getting dark, according to testimony.
An autopsy showed that Hayden was shot in the back, that the bullet exited his front, and he bled to death, Futrell said in her opening statement.
Deputy George Tuggle of the Henry County Sheriff’s Department testified a box cutter was found about three feet from Hayden after the shooting.
Courtney Hayden, sister of Anthony Tyrone Hayden, testified that Jones had driven her brother to a liquor store during the day Dec. 30 and while there kept rushing him, wanted gas money Hayden had promised him and said, “Don’t make me put shells” in Anthony Tyrone Hayden, but she didn’t take that comment seriously.
Courtney Hayden testified she gave Jones $10 of her own money for gas, Jones drove away, and she drove her brother home. She had driven separately, following them, because she had to pay a light bill for her brother and needed his debit card, she said.
Letitia Little testified that Jones’ friend Lisa Street was living with her on Liza Court, and sometimes Jones spent the night there. Little said it was getting dark outside on the evening of Dec. 30 when she went on her porch and Hayden yelled from a distance, asking where a man was (apparently referring to Jones). She yelled back that he didn’t live there, she said.
Shortly after that, she said, she heard Hayden yell, “There he go. There he go.” Little said she went back inside her home. Hayden lived near her.
Looking out from inside her home, Little said, she saw Jones walk to Street’s car and get what looked like a rifle. Little said she saw Hayden walk toward Jones, but she couldn’t hear what was being said. She said she saw Jones pull a rifle on him and saw Hayden turn around and start walking away. She said she then saw Jones shoot Hayden and Hayden fall to the ground. It was almost dark, she said.
Sgt. Steve Raines of the Henry County Sheriff’s Office testified that he arrived at the scene of the shooting at 8:19 p.m., and Hayden indicated to him that he had been shot by Jones.
The next day, Raines measured the distance between where a cartridge casing was found and where the blood on the ground began, and the distance was 56 feet, he said.
Raines said Jones was arrested several days later in Danville. Raines and investigator Chris Stovall of the Henry County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Jones at the Danville police station.
According to Raines’ testimony and a PowerPoint video of the interview that was played in court, Jones told Raines, after being read his rights, he was at his sister’s home at the trailer park, heard gunfire and went outside but didn’t see anyone. Raines said Jones would not sign the statement. However, Jones then wanted to make a statement to Stovall without an attorney present.
According to Stovall and the video, Jones stated that he took Hayden to the liquor store during the day Dec. 30 to get him away from another man who had threatened Hayden with “a blade.” Jones said Hayden was intoxicated before he even took him to the liquor store; that at the liquor store, Hayden verbally abused Jones and made a threatening motion with a liquor bottle as if he were going to hit Jones; and that after Hayden’s sister gave Jones gas money, Jones left Hayden to ride home with her from the liquor store.
That night, Jones said in the video, he shot Hayden in self-defense. Jones said Hayden started walking toward him, Jones told Hayden he didn’t want any trouble, and Hayden had something in his hand and swung it at him, apparently referring to the box cutter.
Jones said he already had a .357 pistol on him and had gotten an SKS rifle out of a car. Futrell described it at as a semiautomatic Soviet Cold War weapon.
“I took two steps back,” Jones said in the video. “The man (Hayden) didn’t care about the gun (the rifle). He seen the gun, man. It’s a big gun, man.”
After Hayden swung a knife at him, Jones said in the video, he closed his eyes and fired the rifle once, and everything went black. “I didn’t shoot him but once,” Jones said.
Jones stated he later threw the pistol and rifle in the water near Philpott dam.
Witness Sidney Moore said after 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30 he was in his apartment in the area when he looked out and saw Hayden pacing back and forth and saying in a very loud, angry voice he was “going to kill that (expletive).”
“I said, Tyrone, why don’t you go home and lay down?” Moore said. Hayden did not respond, but he did start walking in the direction of his home, Moore said.
Moore said he heard a loud gunshot five minutes or so later.
Kenneth Link, of Liza Court, said late in the morning of Dec. 30 he saw Jones and Hayden leave together in a car, and sometime later, Hayden came to the home of a neighbor of Link’s where Link and some others were playing cards and drinking.
Link said later that afternoon he and Hayden had words and Hayden pulled a box cutter on him, but Link said he didn’t consider it a threat because he had known Hayden for many years.
Lisa Street said that during the day Dec. 30, she gave Jones the keys to her vehicle, and Jones and Hayden went to the liquor store. She said after Jones returned, she and Jones drove to the home of friends of hers in Bassett. When questioned by Fodrell, Street couldn’t name them or give the address of the home in Bassett. When asked by Fodrell, Street said there was a rifle in the back seat of the vehicle.
After the trip to Bassett, Street and Jones returned to the trailer park, she said. Street said she was inside the home she shared with Little, and Jones had gone to visit his sister nearby when she heard Little standing on their porch and arguing with Hayden from a distance.
Little then went back in the home, the front door was shut, and Little was in the kitchen when the shooting occurred, Street said, questioning whether Little could have seen it.