Jones v. State

Decision Date23 September 1982
Docket NumberNo. 38839,38839
Citation295 S.E.2d 71,250 Ga. 11
PartiesJohn Michael JONES v. The STATE.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Timothy P. Healy, Robert F. Oliver, Oliver & Oliver, Clarkesville, for John Michael Jones.

V. D. Stockton, Dist. Atty., Clayton, Charles T. Shean III, Asst. Dist. Atty., Wayne Mangum, Michael J. Bowers, Attys. Gen., Janice G. Hildenbrand, Staff Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.


Jones was indicted along with three other men for the murder of Elizabeth Williams in Toccoa, Georgia. Prior to his own trial Jones testified for the state in each of the other cases which were tried separately. The alleged triggerman, James Castell, was convicted and sentenced to death. Donald Addison and Raymond McJunkin who allegedly hired Castell to kill Mrs. Williams were each acquitted in their trials. After a motion for change of venue was granted Jones was tried in Habersham County. The district attorney who prosecuted the other cases disqualified himself in this case and the prosecuting attorney's councel was assigned to prosecute.

The jury convicted Jones of murder and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. His sole enumeration of error on appeal is that the evidence is insufficient under the standard of review required by Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979), to support a finding of guilt for the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt.

At the onset of the trial the parties stipulated that the cause of death was by gunshot and that Castell was the triggerman.

The state's main witness was an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation who had begun investigating the case on the day of the shooting, July 31, 1980. On that morning, Mrs. Williams' husband had arrived at work and then decided to return home because he had forgotten his thermos. When he came home he found his wife's body and the authorities were called in.

The bulk of the agent's testimony consisted of his reading into evidence a statement given by Jones after he was in custody. According to Jones, Castell, who is related to him by marriage, had asked him on July 30, 1980, to drive him to Toccoa the next morning. He stated that he did not know why Castell needed to go to Toccoa and didn't ask. He had driven Castell to Toccoa before and had been paid $100. He knew Castell was recently released from prison in South Carolina and had no car or driver's license.

Jones said in his statement that he thought Castell might be involved in a scheme to steal trucks and that was the reason for the Georgia trips. Early in the morning of July 31, 1980, Jones drove Castell to Toccoa. He claimed that he did not ask the purpose of the trip. Jones stated that Castell asked him to stop at a phone booth and then got out and made a call. Castell then returned to the car and directed him to a house. According to the statement Castell went to the door and Jones heard a woman invite him inside. Jones remained in the car. He heard two gunshots, Castell came out and they drove back to South Carolina.

On the afternoon of July 31, Castell asked Jones to take him back to Toccoa. Jones agreed. As they approached Georgia, a radio news program reported the shooting of Mrs. Williams in Toccoa. Jones stopped the car at Castell's request at Lake Hartwell and Castell handed him a gun and directed him to throw it into the lake, which he did. They continued to Toccoa where he took Castell to Roger Dean's garage, left him there and then went to another station to have a flat tire fixed. Castell had told him he needed to meet McJunkin at the garage. Jones got his tire fixed and returned to pick up Castell and they drove back to South Carolina again. On the trip back Castell gave Jones $200. According to Jones, Castell said he wanted to give him the money for getting him involved.

In his statement Jones stated that on the prior occasions he drove Castell to Toccoa, Castell picked up envelopes containing $1,000 in cash from inside a wrecker owned by McJunkin. He never asked Castell what the money was for. He stated he did not go to authorities sooner because he was afraid of Castell.

The other state's evidence connecting Jones to the crime was the testimony of neighbors of Mrs. Williams. They stated that on the night before the murder a car which was similar to the one owned by Jones drove slowly down their street and was occupied by two men. They were unable to identify Jones as being one of the men. Jones had denied in his statement that he was in Toccoa on that day.

At the close of this evidence, the defense moved for a directed verdict of acquittal which was overruled by the trial court.

The first witness for the defense was Mr. Stockton, the district attorney who had prosecuted the three co-indictees. He stated that Jones had been cooperative and had been consistent in maintaining that he had no prior knowledge of the plan to murder Mrs. Williams. Stockton stated that he never used a witness for the prosecution unless he believed him to be truthful. He also testified that he had agreed with Jones' defense counsel to a polygraph examination which could be used at the trial.

A polygraph examiner with the GBI testified as to the results of the test performed on Mr. Jones. The purpose of the tests was to determine if Jones had prior knowledge of the murder of Mrs. Williams and had helped plan it. According to the polygraph exam, Jones was not being deceptive when he denied prior knowledge of the murder.

Jones then testified himself and the testimony was consistent with his earlier statements. He stated that he had met Donald Addison once at Roger Dean's garage on one of the prior occasions he had driven Castell to Toccoa. He testified that during the period they were at the garage he only talked with Addison a few minutes and that the subject of the conversation was Addison's running for office and discussion of a...

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17 cases
  • Castell v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • March 16, 1983
    ...convicted, and sentenced to death. 1 Jones was convicted and given a life sentence. His conviction was affirmed in Jones v. State, 250 Ga. 11, 295 S.E.2d 71 (1982). Addison and McJunkin were Jones was the state's key witness against Castell. He testified as follows. Castell and Jones were r......
  • Eckman v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 11, 2001
    ...S.E.2d 192 (2000). Proof that the defendant shares a common criminal intent with the actual perpetrators is necessary (Jones v. State, 250 Ga. 11, 13, 295 S.E.2d 71 (1982)), and may be inferred from the defendant's conduct before, during, and after the crime. Sands v. State, 262 Ga. 367(2),......
  • Goodman v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • May 17, 2022
    ...Appellant was a party to the crimes under the doctrine of transferred intent." (citation and punctuation omitted)); Jones v. State , 250 Ga. 11, 13, 295 S.E.2d 71 (1982) (disposing of the murder weapon supported conviction as a party to the crime when taken together with involvement in acts......
  • Klinect v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • July 6, 1998
    ...after the fact. Klinect was not indicted for the separate crime of obstruction of justice. See OCGA § 16-10-24; Jones v. State, 250 Ga. 11, 13, 295 S.E.2d 71 (1982). She did not submit a written request to charge on accessory after the fact or obstruction of justice, but contends such a cha......
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