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Phillip Jones Charged For Fatally Assaulting Man In St. Paul Apartment Building

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A 39-year-old man has been charged in connection to the fatal assault of man last month in an apartment building in St. Paul.

Phillip Charles Jones faces second-degree murder charges in Ramsey County for the death of 51-year-old Carlos Venceslado Rocha.

Phillip Jones
Credit: Ramsey County

The criminal complaint says that officers arrived to an apartment complex on the 600 block of Snelling Avenue North on the report of an assault on Dec. 20. There, they met Rocha, who had dried blood on his face.

He said he'd left his apartment about an hour before, but saw a man, identified as Jones, in the hallway with lots of belongings blocking his way. Rocha said he asked Jones to move them, but Jones got upset and allegedly punched him in the face. Officers photographed Rocha's injuries and he was treated at the scene.

On Dec. 27, police did a welfare check on Rocha, as his mother said he hadn't spoken to him in a few days. The last time they spoke, he told her he was bleeding, the complaint states.

The door was locked from the inside, and medics used an open window to gain access to the apartment. Rocha was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers found a significant amount of blood on the mattress, and his cause of death was determined to be exsanguination due to an assault, and the manner of death was a homicide.

A witness who lives in the complex said she heard the altercation from inside her apartment. She said she opened her door and looked out to the hallway, and saw the two men arguing. She had seen Jones sleep in the hallway before.

According to the complaint, surveillance video from Dec. 20 shows Jones going into the apartment next door to Rocha's. Then, he goes into a different apartment.

Police spoke to the resident of the second apartment, who said he knew Jones was experiencing homelessness and had previously lived in Michigan. He said that on Dec. 20, Jones had come to his apartment, but didn't say anything about the incident.

Law enforcement agencies then identified Jones from surveillance video stills, the complaint says. A criminal history check also revealed an active arrest warrant for first-degree arson.

Jones was taken into custody on Thursday in St. Paul. In a post-Miranda interview, he said "I ain't killed nobody," and said  "I have a temper from hell, I'm gonna be honest with you." He allegedly refused to work with the investigator to pinpoint the last time he saw Rocha.

If convicted, the second-degree murder charge carries a maximum 40-year sentence.

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