The following is a statement from Mike Jones, the son of the victim and the uncle of the murderer in the Jones v. Mississippi case. Mike and his family were not notified that their case was going to the Supreme Court, even though they signed up for victim notification. Instead, they learned about this development from a newspaper. Though it is too late to file an amicus brief on the victim’s family’s behalf, NOVJM wants the Supreme Court to know the truth about the murder of Bertis Jones.
Statement from Mike Jones
My father Bertis was murdered in 2004. He was 68-years-old. The murderer was his grandson and my nephew, Brett Jones. My father was a good man. He had previously worked as a repairman for Ford Motor Company and then as a truck driver. He was not violent and he certainly never harmed any of his grandchildren. In fact, my family lived next door to him for over five years and my children were with him daily. My children loved spending time with him. He was well-respected and honest and he was my best friend.
Daddy agreed to let my brother’s son Brett live with him in Mississippi. Brett had been living in Florida with his mother, but he was too violent. He attacked and injured his stepfather and was unmanageable. So my father agreed to take him in. Two months later he was dead.
Brett was a defiant young man. He drew disturbing pictures depicting people killing each other with knives. One picture I remember showed a man with his head cut off and another man with a knife. Brett was also very unruly and aggressive. He did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted and refused to do what he was told. He liked doing what he knew was wrong. When my father tried to speak with him about his behavior he would become very abrasive and argue. He would also get angry and fight when he was asked to do chores or clean his room. Brett also lied a lot.
My father was a disciplined man and had never had to deal with someone like Brett. His wife, my mother, did not help try to discipline Brett because she did not know how to deal with him. Brett’s father, my brother, who lived with Daddy and Brett also did not help discipline him.
As time went on, Brett’s behavior became worse. About two weeks before the murder, Daddy came over to help work on my house. He was very upset and told me that he feared he would wake up one night and Brett would be standing there with a knife. He was scared that his own grandson would kill him. His fears later came true. This has haunted me. Brett was in a safe, loving home. He went to church with my family and ate supper with us and I had a conversation with him letting him know I would be there to help him with anything he needed.
One day, Daddy found that Brett had been hiding his 13-year-old girlfriend in their house without permission. He was also making long-distance calls to Florida, which cost Daddy a lot of money. After Daddy confronted Brett about this, Brett became very mad. Brett’s girlfriend testified that he said he would hurt his granddaddy. Later, as Daddy was sitting and eating dinner, Brett attacked him from behind with a steak knife. When the steak knife broke, he went to the kitchen and got a fillet knife. Daddy went out of the door and tried to escape. But Brett attacked him again on the porch. My father collapsed in the yard. He died from a stab wound that severed an artery in his heart. After murdering my Daddy, Brett hid his body in the utility room. A neighbor called the police after seeing Brett hiding in the bushes with blood on him. Me, my wife, and our son were there when Daddy’s body was discovered. This was and has been a horrible memory to live with.
Brett was convicted of the first-degree murder of Daddy and sentenced to life without parole. He is now arguing to the Supreme Court that his sentence is cruel and unusual because he is not “permanently incorrigible.” My wife and I found out that our case was going to the Supreme Court through the newspaper. We were not notified even though we signed up for victim notification. This has made the trauma of losing my father even worse. This whole process has forced us to relive the worst time in our lives. Having to relive my father’s murder has affected my entire body. The pain is so bad that it makes me physically sick. I am having more flashbacks of seeing my father’s body. I am also having a harder time sleeping.
The consequences of Brett’s sentence being overturned would be devastating to my family. If Brett were to be sentenced to life with parole we would be forced to endure parole hearings every couple of years. This would be incredibly difficult, to say the least. Whenever my father’s murder comes up it is like it happened yesterday. And I don’t want me and my family to spend the rest of our lives feeling like we did the day after the murder. Brett actually being released is such a distressing and frightening prospect that I can’t even think about it. If Brett Jones is released, my family and I would be in danger. We have lived out this nightmare over and over since this happened and each time we have found out about it by seeing it in the news or on the front page of our local newspaper. This has been devastating for our family and for our children. The lies part of the family has told about my father have torn our family apart. Lies were told to make my father look like someone he was not.
I will not let my father be dragged through the dirt. I will do whatever I can to ensure that Daddy gets justice. Brett testified he was in the only safe home he ever had. Offenders under 18 should not be able to brutally kill people and then be released into society. Releasing monsters like Brett would be like a horror movie. I will do whatever I can to ensure that doesn’t happen.