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A South Carolina father who killed his five children will die for his crimes, despite his ex-wife’s pleas to spare his life.
It took the jury less than two hours Thursday to unanimously sentence Timothy Jones Jr. to death for the 2014 murders of his five children, ranging in age from 8 to 1 year old, following an emotionally charged trial, according to the local newspaper The State.
The single father was found guilty of five counts of murder last week for killing Merah, 8; Elias, 7; Nahtahn, 6; Gabriel, 2; and Abigail Elaine, 1; in the family’s Lexington County home.
Jones had claimed Nahtahn died first on Aug. 28, 2014 after he was forced to perform rigorous exercises as part of a punishment. Jones claimed that the death was accidental, but after the 6-year-old collapsed and died he told police he felt his only choice was to systematically strangle each of his remaining children.
Jones had to use a belt to choke the two youngest children because they were so small his hands were unable to fit around their necks.
He then drove around for nine days with their bodies in the back of his vehicle before dumping their bodies in Alabama, The Associated Press reports.
The jury’s decision to sentence Jones to death came after his ex-wife Amber Kyzer’s surprising plea to spare his life.
“He did not show my children mercy by any means, but my kids loved him and if I’m speaking on behalf of my kids and not myself, that’s what I would have to say,” she told the jury according to local station WIS-TV. “I am not here for me. The mom in me wants him to feel everything that I feel, that my kids felt. Nothing justifies, nothing justifies what you’ve done.”
Kyzer also said she could “personally rip his face off” for the killing her children, but was also opposed to sentencing anyone to death. Kyzer said she did not want to force the Jones family to suffer the unimaginable pain she suffered after the loss of her own children.
“I personally, myself, can’t bring myself to want anybody to die,” she said, according to The State.
However, 11th Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard advocated for the death of the man he called a “monster” and “the worst of the worst,” citing the horrific details of the crime.
“Is there any crime more horrible than what you have heard about when you came into the courtroom?” Hubbard asked.
Jones’ lawyer argued that he should be given mercy because he suffered from mental illness and snapped from the stress of being a single father. They also cited his frequent drug use as a contributing factor in the tragedy.
According to defense attorney Casey Secor, putting Jones to death would also be a devastating blow to his parents and siblings, who have already endured a tremendous loss.
“Let mercy be your first concern. You can punish Tim severely with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole ... The heartbreak of this family is unfathomable. There do not have to be any more deaths,” he said.
At the time of their deaths, Jones had primary custody of the children because he was a software engineer who made more than $80,000 and was able to care for the children. Kyzer told the court that she agreed to give him primary custody because she didn’t have a driver’s license, car, or job, and thought it was in the children’s best interests to live with their father.
“I had nothing to offer my children, I could not provide for them,” she said, according to WIS-TV.
After the divorce was finalized, she had been trying to improve her situation, earning a high school diploma, getting a job and driver’s license, and rarely missing visitation with her kids.
When the jury’s decision was announced Thursday, Jones had no noticeable reaction.
But for prosecutors, the decision achieved justice for the young victims whose lives were cut irrevocably short.
“Those five little babies finally got justice…They’ve been on our minds and hearts and today’s the day they got justice,” he said.
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