Murder suspects’ bond at $2 million each

Published 10:54 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Two Selma men are in the Dallas County Jail under $2 million bond each in connection with the shooting death of Jessica Colon.

Colon died Monday of a single gunshot wound to the upper right chest. She was 24 years old.

Tommie Blythe, 26, 328 Crestwood Drive, and John Jones Jr., 22, 1307 Voglin Ave., are charged with murder in her death. Jones faces an additional charge of certain people forbidden to carry firearms.

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In his testimony during the bond hearing Tuesday in Dallas County District Court, Selma Police Detective Tory Neely said both men have criminal histories.

District Court Judge Bob Armstrong initially set bond for the two men at $1 million each, then changed the amount to $2 million minutes later.

Visibly upset by the rash of shootings and deaths in the last few months, Armstrong said, “I want to send a message to the community. I want people to talk about this.”

Armstrong said he would face criticism from some people in Selma for setting a high bond, but he did not mind.

“I’m going to keep on doing it as long as this behavior continues,” he said.

Colon’s death is the second fatal shooting in a week.

“This is the worst rash that I can ever remember of murders and shootings in our community,” the judge said.

Neely was the only witness during the bond hearing for both men. The case remains under investigation.

Both men offered statements to authorities shortly after Monday’s shooting.

Blythe owed Colon money she had loaned him to put up bond. Colon and Jones went to a house in the 1600 block of Philpot Avenue to find Blythe, Neely said.

Who fired the first shot remains the question.

Neely said Blythe told authorities Jones fired the first shot, then Blythe fired back.

Jones had a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and Blythe had a .38 revolver, according to Neely’s testimony.

Blythe told authorities Colon approached him about the money he owed her and Jones exited the couple’s car and began firing.

“Blythe said Jessica was struck by one of his bullets,” Neely told the court.

During an interview with authorities, Jones said Blythe pulled a handgun, so Jones pulled his and returned fire after Blythe shot at him,” Neely said.

Under cross examination by Blythe’s attorney, Joseph Fitzpatrick of Montgomery, Neely said authorities had interviewed four witnesses to the shooting. All of them said Blythe shot first and Jones returned fire, the police detective testified.

Evidence technicians found one 9 mm casing on the sidewalk in front of the house and four spent rounds in the revolver in Blythe’s possession, Neely told the court.

Assistant District Attorney John Oxford told the court both men have previous records. Jones was indicted May 6 by a Dallas County grand jury on a charge of shooting into a vehicle. Jones was free on bond from that indictment when the shooting occurred Monday.

A bill of indictment is a document setting out the criminal charges against somebody, presented to a grand jury.