A Texas man, who fatally stabbed his stepmother after she gloated following a Dallas Cowboys victory, has been sentenced to life in prison.
Pontrey Jones, 23 was convicted this week for murdering Magdalena Ruiz, his stepmother, nearly three years ago in the family’s Austin home, Travis County prosecutors said. He was convicted on Wednesday, October 30, and sentenced to life in prison on Thursday, October 31. It took jurors only three minutes to reach a verdict in his case.
“We do not have easy answers to the issues presented here, but I am grateful to these jurors for their conscientious decision,” Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore told Oxygen.com in an emailed statement. “This verdict protects this community and provides the best option to address the defendant’s condition.”
Jones was charged with Ruiz’s murder on Dec. 18, 2016.
Around 10:39 p.m. that evening, police received a call regarding a stabbing at an Austin home. Authorities arrived to find “Maggie” Ruiz suffering from “multiple stab wounds,” according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com. The woman was transported to a hospital but later died from her wounds.
The man’s father, Pontrey Simon, told police that Jones had been “pacing” back and forth in front of him and his wife as they sat on the living room couch watching television earlier in the evening. At one point, Jones retrieved a steak knife he had stashed behind the sofa and “lunged” at Ruiz with the blade.
“Jones advised he obtained the hidden knife, positioned himself behind the victim, and made several overhand strikes to the victim's chest, stabbing her multiple times,” the arrest affidavit stated.
Ruiz was stabbed several times in the ribcage and torso.
Pontrey, who fled the scene on foot after a brief struggle with Simon, “disrobed” in the street and was found lying naked on a patch of grass nearby, police said. He was arrested afterward. When police asked him where the knife was, Jones replied he had “left it in her chest.”
Jones revealed to investigators that he had previously “developed a plan” to kill Ruiz, confessing that he took the steak knife from the kitchen dishwasher and it hid it underneath a couch in the living room. He described the knife as “one commonly used to eat with.”
Earlier that evening, authorities said the family was watching a televised NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas won by a score of 26-20.
“Jones advised he noticed how the victim was ‘disrespecting his father and gloating about how the Cowboys won the game,” the arrest affidavit stated.
The Cowboys’ win, investigators suggested, was the final trigger that spurred Jones to reach for the knife.
"Maggie was gloating about the Cowboys winning the game," Jones told detectives, according to a separate police incident report obtained by Oxygen.com. "I looked at my dad and got a chill. Maggie and my dad were sitting on the couch. I then grabbed the knife and I stabbed her in the chest from behind. I stabbed her a few times. I wasn't sure if one would be good enough. My dad then started freaking out, like he wanted to destroy me. After the stabbing I sat down and tried to calm my dad. I really just wanted to leave."
When Jones learned that his stepmother had died, he "appeared relieved," according to police. He told investigators that he had stabbed Ruiz with "the sole intent of killing her."
"I'm not sorry for stabbing her, he added. "I feel like there's one less, honestly. But I do love my dad."
Jones also later claimed he believed his stepmother was a “demon,” prosecutors said.
"Females, women ... they are demons, aliens, witches ... call it what you like," Jones told police. "Regardless they are something bad and I can feel it and they know it. Or, I'm nuts and I was getting the wrong vibe for nothing."
Jones was supposedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder but had stopped taking his medication two years prior because it “slowed him down,” he told detectives. A court psychologist also testified that Jones likely suffers from schizophrenia. He had initially been deemed unfit to stand trial but was found to be competent following a stay in a Texas mental hospital.
“When they won, Maggie was celebrating the Cowboys victory,” Nancy Williams, a spokesperson for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, told Oxygen.com. “However, Mr. Jones did not stab her because of the game per se — rather, it was a combination of him thinking she was gloating because of the win and because of his mental illness.”
Prior to the stabbing, Jones, then 20, had reportedly been living on the streets, but had recently moved back in with his father and stepmother, who also had three children living in their household. He had previously been homeless in Chicago before moving back to Texas. During that time, Jones had shacked up with an assortment of people, some of whom he alleged were cannibals, according to Jones' best friend, Brandon Hinkle.
"He became homeless and told me that other people in Chicago took him in and fed him," Hinkle told police. "Pontrey claimed that these unknown people had fed him human flesh."
Hinkle, who's also Ruiz's nephew, said Jones would often speak in "riddles." The pair would often play video games together. The day before the murder, Hinkle said Jones began asking him strange questions.
"What if someone betrayed you, if your mother stabbed you?" Jones asked Hinkle, police said.
When Jones moved in with his father, Ruiz secretly went through his belongings, the woman's sister also told authorities. What she found perplexed her. In Jones' bag, she located "a lot of condoms," a knife, and a onesie outfit for an infant. It's unknown why Jones had child's clothing but he joked with Ruiz that "he might have a baby out there."
Jones admitted to smoking a marijuana blunt with his father the evening Ruiz was killed. Marijuana can induce psychosis, particularly for individuals who have been diagnosed schizophrenia, according to the Center for Addiction. Ruiz's sister also told investigators that Jones hadn't slept for almost two days leading up to his stepmother's murder.
Before setting his sights on Ruiz, Jones told authorities he had initially planned to “break his little sister’s neck.” Jones had also previously threatened his uncle with a knife when he was 15, according to prosecutors.
He was deemed a “high-risk inmate” while incarcerated at Travis County Jail.
“We are pleased that the jury has brought closure and justice to the family, and we hope the defendant will receive the continuous mental health treatment he needs while in prison,” prosecutor Joshua Somers said in a statement.
However, Jones' attorney, Deniz Kadirhan, insisted that her client isn't an "evil man." She said, instead, that the courts failed him.
"This case is a true tragedy," Kadirhan told Oxygen.com. "It is a perfect example of how the system fails people who suffer from mental illness. Pontrey Jones is not an evil man, he is a 23-year-old boy who is never going to be able to get the help he needs because the judicial system and the District Attorney’s Office misunderstand the real implications of living with mental illness. Life in prison is a barbaric option for someone so young who, due to his mental health condition, couldn’t appreciate the reality of his actions."
The 23-year-old must serve 30 years behind bars before he’s eligible for parole.
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