The sanity of a man who has admitted to killing his five children is currently being debated in court. His ex-girlfriend, who testified against him, is now stating that he was not out of his mind.
Timothy Jones Jr. has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to five murder charges pertaining to the killings of his children, who ranged in age from 1 to 8 years old. His defense lawyers hope to argue that Jones had suffered from undiagnosed schizophrenia, which led to the killings. Chrystal Ballentine, a babysitter of the kids who had been sexually involved with Jones Jr. since she was 17 years old, does not agree with that assessment of Jones.
“I’ve never seen him have any kind of symptoms of being insane,” Ballentine said in Lexington, South Carolina on May 28, according to the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina. “He was acting off, but I don’t know if it’s insanity. ... He knew what was right and wrong. He knew about God — what you should do in life. He was pretty sure of himself and pretty sure of everything."
During her testimony, which occurred on the 11th day of the trial, Ballentine added that she had seen Jones severely discipline his children.
“He was over-angry. He should’ve calmed himself down before he took discipline actions,” said Ballentine. “I could hear it and couldn’t do nothing about it. Every time I did, we’d get in a battle. It caused a lot of conflict.”
Jones has already confessed to killing his kids on in the family's trailer in Lexington County on Aug. 28, 2014. Shortly after his arrest at a checkpoint, Jones told police that he had dumped the bagged-up bodies of the children along a logging road in Alabama while driving to Las Vegas to gamble. He'd kept the corpses in his Cadillac Escalade along the journey for nine days.
Jones says that after his middle child, 6-year-old Nahtahn, had died due to exhaustion from a severe punishment in which he was forced to exercise for hours at a time, voices compelled him to go after his other kids. He would go on to strangle the oldest two children with his hands and the youngest two with a belt.
Timothy Jones Sr., the accused's father, said in court that he feared his son would inherit his wife's mental illness.
“This was the Tim I was scared I was going to see someday,” said Jones Sr., who gained legal custody of Jones Jr. when the latter was 2 years old. “If there’s five kids dead, somebody’s got to be [expletive] crazy."
Jones Sr. said he had previously observed his son devolve into religious fervor after marrying his wife, a formerly homeless teenager named Amber Kyzer.
“I thought he was crazy. You’ve known this girl a couple of days and you want to marry her?” Jones Sr. said. “The religious thing was off the charts."
Jones Sr. said he had considered obtaining custody of the children but feared his son would become violent if he attempted to take the kids away.
“If I tried to take Timmy’s kids, he might kill me because he loves them so much. It would be hard to take his children," Jones Sr. testified.
A Department of Social Services investigation had previously been launched into the Jones household after another babysitter, Joy Lorick, reported instances of physical abuse, according to the Greenville News. As a result of the investigation, Jones had agreed to never beat or spank his children again.
"If I make this call to DSS, nothing will be done ... and they did nothing," Lorick told the court, crying, according to WACH of Columbia, South Carolina.
Jones Jr. potentially faces the death penalty if found guilty.
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