Teachers get emotional on stand when remembering Timothy Jones’s children
Jones faces either the death penalty or life in prison without parole
LEXINGTON, S.C. (WOLO) — After only two days of testimony, the prosecution rested its case in the sentencing phase of the Timothy Jones Jr. trial. Jones was found guilty earlier this week in the murders of his five children back in 2014.
To wrap up their case, prosecutors brought up three educators, including two who taught Elias, 7, and Nahtahn, 6, while they were students at Saxe Gotha Elementary School
Looking back on the two oldest Jones boys, some teachers say they can still remember their smiling faces.
Jacquelyn Moran, Elias’s first grade teacher, remembers her former student as someone who was selfless and wanted everyone to have a friend.
“What I remember about Eli was he was everyone’s friend. Everybody wanted to be friends with Eli,” Moran said.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Stone, who taught Nahtahn in kindergarten, remembers him as a student who was always smiling, but there were days where he needed a hug.
“He seemed to light up the world. When he walked into the classroom, he had the biggest smile on his face,” Stone said.
However, when Stone got to know Nahtahn throughout the school year, he said he could sense something missing at home.
“I was trying to make him feel loved and wanted, and try to make him have a normal life. When he walked into that school, I wanted him to be a part of a family,” Stone said.
Stone says no one came to support Nahtahn when the school had a graduation ceremony for his kindergarten class.
One day, teachers say they saw bruises on Nahtahn’s neck.
Those in the classroom say Nahtahn told them the marks came from his father, who got upset after Nahtahn allegedly destroyed a model train track Jones built with Elias.
Stone, as well as teacher’s assistant Amy Shearer, testified that the bruises came from Jones putting his hands around Nahtahn’s neck and holding him against a wall.
After teachers reported bruises on Nahtahn’s neck to the Department of Social Services (DSS), they say all communication with the defendant ceased.
They say the deaths of the children still linger in their lives.
“I feel guilty. I saw the bruises and made a report, but he’s no longer with us today,” said Shearer, who also testified that she had nightmares for months after hearing that the children died at the hands of their father in August 2014.
Once Stone heard the news, he told the jury he went straight home from Saxe Gotha and hugged his two-year-old son. He said the loss of Nahtahn impacted him so much, he’s leaving Saxe Gotha for a position at a new school.
“I can’t stand to be at that school and see him in the halls everyday. I need a change, and that change is something that’s going to allow me to move on with my life,” Stone said.
The state rested after nearly two days of testimony from eight witnesses. Of those eight, four testified in the first phase of the trial. Friday marked the first time Moran, Stone, and Shearer took the stand in either phase.
The defense began calling witnesses to the stand before court adjourned for the day around lunchtime.
Their first witness was Rev. Kerry Breen, who has run faith-based recovery programs. He said he met Jones through his connections with the defense, and the two would sing Christian songs as well as read scripture together. Throughout their interactions, he said Jones rarely brought up the case around him.
The other was a deputy with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. He told jurors that he’s transported Jones back and forth from Kirkland Correctional Institution for nearly five years. He says he’s never been uncomfortable personally with Jones, saying that since he’s been off his medication, the defendant has been talkative.
Jones’s defense team will continue calling witnesses Monday morning. Once testimony ends, jurors will determine if Jones will be sentenced to death or to life in prison without parole.