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Guilty verdicts returned in Erick Jones trial, death penalty off the table

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) - A jury has returned guilty verdicts against Erick Jones in the 2014 deaths of two babies.

After nearly five hours of deliberation, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all eight counts, the majority of which were on lesser charges; including the main counts of felony first degree murder of each child. 

 

 

Instead, Jones was charged with the facilitation of first degree murder. 

According to District Attorney Dan Armstrong, Jones will no longer face the death penalty since the jury convicted him on lesser charges. 

"Once they did not find him guilty of the principle charge, the death penalty is off the table," says  Armstrong. 

Jones was accused of in the murders of 14-month-old Kynsleigh Easterly and 2-month-old Trinity Tweed back in December of 2014. 

It was during that time when police arrived at a home on North Hardin Street in Greeneville  and found the babies unresponsive. 

Jones was facing a total of eight counts in connection with their deaths.

Saturday the jury returned an overall 'guilty' verdict for Jones on two of the original counts; those being for aggravated child neglect, one count for each child. 

He was found guilty on lesser charges for six of the counts. 

Here is an outline of the 8 original counts against Jones:

  • Count one: First degree felony murder of Kynsleigh Easterly during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse. 
  • Count two: First degree felony murder of Kynsleigh Easterly during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect.
  • Count three: First degree felony murder of Trinity Tweed during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse. 
  • Count four: First degree felony murder of Trinity Tweed during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect.
  • Count five: Aggravated child abuse of Kynsleigh Easterly.
  • Count six: Aggravated child neglect  of Kynsleigh Easterly. 
  • Count seven: Aggravated child abuse of Trinity Tweed.
  • Count eight: Aggravated child neglect of Trinity Tweed. 

On those eight counts, the jury found Erick Jones:

  • Count one: Not guilty.
    • Guilty of lesser charge, facilitation of first degree felony murder of Kynsleigh Easterly during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse. 
  • Count two: Not guilty.
    • Guilty of lesser charge, facilitation of first degree felony murder of Kynsleigh Easterly during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect.
  • Count three: Not guilty.
    • Guilty of lesser charge, facilitation of first degree felony murder of Trinity Tweed during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse. 
  • Count four: Not guilty.
    • Guilty of lesser charge, facilitation of first degree felony murder of Trinity Tweed during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect.
  • Count five: Not guilty.
    • Guilty of lesser charge, knowing aggravated assault of Kynsleigh Easterly. 
  • Count six: Guilty
  • County seven: Not guilty.
    • Guilty of lesser charge, facilitation of knowing aggravated assault of Trinity Tweed. 
  • Count eight: Guilty

Many News Channel 11 viewers on Facebook asked what "facilitation" of murder implies. District Attorney Armstrong explained a facilitation of murder charge means Jones provided aid or assistance that resulted in the death of the children. 

Armstrong said the prosecution was disappointed Jones was not convicted of those 6 initial counts, but that he respects the decision of the jury. 

"I accept the jury's verdict, we presented the evidence, we thought the evidence showed more. The jury disagreed. That's the system," Armstrong said.

Jones' sentencing hearing has been scheduled for November 29 at 1pm. 

Armstrong told News Channel 11 the prosecution will ask for a higher sentence at the hearing. 

"At that time we will present the aggravating factors and ask the judge to set a higher sentence. We also have asked for consecutive sentencing on this case," says Armstrong. 

Though convicted on majority lesser charges, Armstrong predicts Jones could still face a lengthy prison sentence. 

"Potentially he could face many, many years in jail," he says. 

This verdict wraps up six days of trial in Greene County Criminal Court. 

District Attorney Armstrong was not able to confirm when the mother of the two babies, Kendra Tweed, will be back in court. Tweed was indicted in November 2016 for her roll in the deaths of her two children. 

Even though Tweed may have not carried out the murders prosecutors say because she left them in Jones' care, and her knowledge of his violent past, that is ground for charges under Haley's Law. 


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