Wednesday, August 22, 2007

October execution date set

Jones to die Oct. 16, attorney general says

By Warren Watkins

An execution date has been set for White County’s only representative on death row.

Jack Jones Jr., now 42, was convicted April 17, 1996, of the capital murder and rape of Mary Phillips, 34, and criminal attempt to commit capital murder of her 11-year-old daughter, Lacy Phillips. Sentenced to death by lethal injection, Jones also received sentences of life imprisonment and 30 years in prison.

On June 6, 1995, Jones entered Automated Tax and Accounting Service in Bald Knob, where Mary Phillips, who worked as a bookkeeper, intending to rob the business.
“He had a pistol, latex gloves and wire,” said Chris Raff, prosecutor for the 17th Judicial District, which includes White and Prairie counties. “He used wire from a coffee pot to strangle Mary Phillips. This was a brutal and horrible case. I was out there at the scene while Mary was still there, and from seeing what he did to her and her daughter, I decided to seek the death penalty.”

Raff put the daughter on the witness stand at the trial, and she testified that Jones took her into a bathroom, tied her to a chair, then left. Jones returned to choke Lacy until she passed out, hitting her at least eight times in the head with the barrel of a BB gun. Lacy regained consciousness as police were photographing her, thinking she was dead.

Jones was caught soon after the crimes.

On April 1, 2005, Jones pleaded guilty in a Florida court to the 1991 murder of Lorraine Anne Barrett, 32, who was found murdered in a Ft. Lauderdale motel room in 1991.

Officials ruled the death a homicide by asphyxiation. In 2002, a Ft. Lauderdale police detective re-opened the cold case, and through the National DNA indexing System found Jones’ DNA matched evidence found at the murder scene.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld Jones’ death sentence, Raff said.

Jones awaits his execution in the Varner Supermax Unit.

Raff has gained four death penalty convictions in capital murder trials during his tenure as prosecutor.

Three of those have been executed. A clemency hearing for Jones will probably be held, Raff said.

“If so, I will appear before them and argue the sentence should be carried out,” Raff said

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