Dead Certain

Their Mother Was Brutally Murdered

Jerry Jones spent a decade behind bars proclaiming his innocence after being convicted of killing his wife. And with the help of his devoted daughters he got a second chance to clear his name.

But as 48 Hours reports, Jones' freedom was short-lived. Two years after his release, he was again facing murder charges.

In 1988, the Jones family seemed to be living the American Dream. Jerry, a successful pharmaceutical salesman, and his wife Lee were raising two teen-age daughters and a young son. But on the night of Dec. 3, Lee Jones met a gruesome fate when she was stabbed to death as she prepared to take a bath in their suburban Seattle home.

Shortly after Lee's death, the stunned and grief-stricken children were hit with another tragedy: their father was being charged with murder.

According to Jerry, the night of the murder he heard a scream coming from the bathroom and ran down the hallway to investigate. "And my vision, my focus, my attention was just riveted that it's a knife," said Jerry as he described his encounter with an intruder that evening. "And we just more or less meet in the doorway and collide."

He claims he was cut on the hand and knocked against a wall. When he came to, the intruder was gone and he discovered Lee bleeding to death in the bathtub.

His story didn't convince the local authorities. "There was no evidence of anyone else having been in the house or having left the house," said Detective Joe Ward who worked on the Jones case.

Jerry's story also failed to convince a jury. At his 1989 trial, Jerry was convicted of first-degree murder.

"He's been accused, convicted and sent to prison...for something he didn't do," believes Jerry's daughter Kim. She and her sister Beth have fought tirelessly to clear their father's name.

They believe their mother's killer is a neighborhood teen-ager, Daniel Busby, who they say was obsessed with Beth.

Since Lee Jones' murder, Busby has been convicted of more than 20 crimes, including assaulting one woman.

But in the initial murder trial, Jerry's lawyer failed to present any evidence about Busby. Kim and Beth believe their father never would have been convicted had that information been available to the jury.

Two years ago, a federal judge gave Kim and Beth hope. The judge set aside Jerry's conviction and set him free, ruling Jones didn't get a fair trial.

After a year of freedom, Jerry again found himself facing a murder charge for the death of his wife.

Kim and Beth redoubled their efforts to fight for their father. They raised thousands of dollars for his legal defense fund, mounted a national public relations campaign, and rallied dozens of supporters.

Before the second trial, Jerry Jones was confident because he knew the jury would hear testimony from Daniel Busby, the man Jones says is the real killer. "What's at stake is putting to rest what has been a nightmare for us over the last 12 years. Losing my wife, the children losing their mother is a horrible thing," said Jerry.

His daughter was not as confident. "For 12 years, I've lived my life on a roller coaster," said Kim. "I'm scared to death. I'm scared for my father."

Prosecutor Ron Doersch planned to tear down Jerry's story about his confrontation with the alleged killer. He said the lacerations on Jerry's hands the night of the murder were not consistent with defensive wounds: "The cuts tell me that he was stabbing her, the knife slipped, he kept on stabbing her, the knife slipped, he kept on stabbing her, the knife continued to slip."

At the second trial, Daniel Busby was brought to the stand and grilled by the defense lawyer over graphic letters he wrote indicating his infatuation with both Beth and Lee Jones.

Busby failed to crack under the pressure of the witness stand but his testimony was seen as a boost to Jerry's defense.

But would it be enough to sway the jury?

After two years of freedom, Jerry Jones is again at the mercy of a jury. And his daughters prayed they won't have to see their father taken away for a second time.

After deliberating for just six and a half hours the jury came back with a verdict: guilty. Jerry Jones was sentenced to 25 years. Counting the 10 years he already served, Jerry could be eligible for parole in six.

Two weeks after his conviction, Jerry spoke with 48 Hours from jail still proclaiming his innocence. "If I had done the murder, I would have confessed a long time ago and saved myself and my family all of this agony," said Jerry.

"Everyone who knows me as a person and as a human being knows I am...not responsible for this crime."
  • David Kohn

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