Shooting suspect guilty

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

John Jones Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling and one count of second degree assault in connection with the Broad Street shooting in May 2004.

Jones’ trial was set to begin today, but almost immediately after the jury was struck for the case, Jones opted to take the plea agreement offered by Dallas County prosecutors in the case.

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“We were ready to go (to trial),” Dallas County district attorney Michael Jackson said.

The plea agreement had been offered to Jones well before the trial date, Jackson said. He refused it until Tuesday.

“He thought better of it when he was looking at

the jury,” Jackson said.

Sentenced to 12 years each for the two counts of discharging a firearm and 10 years for the assault charge, officials said the sentences would run concurrently.

Jones was accused – along with five other Selma men – of shooting into The Selma Times-Journal office building and the Pilcher-McBryde drug store on Broad Street during a May 2004 shootout.

The suspects drove two cars down Broad Street and opened fire on each other between Water Avenue and Alabama Avenue.

During the gunfire, Brandon Lewis, a Selma youth, was shot in the leg. Jones was charged with the assault.

Jones is considered the most culpable shooting in the case, according to Jackson.

“The Jones guy was the main shooter,” Jackson said.

By pleading guilty, Jones accepted three charges. He was also charged with discharging a gun into an occupied vehicle. In addition, Jones was charged with first-degree assault, which was reduced by the plea agreement to second-degree assault. All the crimes Jones pleaded guilty to are felonies.

Prosecutors said they were happy with the outcome of the case.

“The man is a three-time convicted felon (now),” assistant district attorney Mickey Avery said. “The community will be safer because of (this conviction). We feel like that’s a good thing.”

Jones’ attorney, Tommy Treese, said the plea wasn’t exactly what he wanted, but still acceptable.

“We’d have like to have done better but that’s the deal we took,” he said.

Treese said the plea would have gone better for the defense if the crime occurred anywhere but on Broad Street.

“The key to this case was location, location, location,” he said.

The other four suspects – Jerron Stallworth, Julius Ford, Corey Cooper and Justin Johnson – are expected to go to trial in January.

Jackson said other plea agreements may follow since Jones pleaded guilty.

“There’s a good chance that most of them will plead guilty,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the conclusion of the case was exciting.

“We’ve shipped another gunslinger off to prison,” he said. “Broad Street is (again) a place for businesses and people to walk down the sidewalk without having to worry about ducking.”