Attorney hoping for conditional discharge
August 21, 2019
Jamal Jones’ attorney holds out slim hope his client can receive a conditional discharge from sentencing for his role in a violent home invasion so he can join the military.
What’s more likely is Jones, 19, will spend 16 1/2 years behind bars, based on a plea deal accepted Aug. 13 in Tucumcari district court. Formal sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.
Jones, listed in court records as residing in Eagle Nest, New Mexico, but his attorney says lives in Albuquerque, agreed to plead guilty aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, false imprisonment, interference with communications, armed robbery and larceny with a firearm. All but one of the counts are felonies.
Two other charges — conspiracy to commit armed robbery and assault with intent to commit to commit a violent felony — would be dropped as part of the plea agreement.
Jones’ case was scheduled to go to trial this week. According to online court documents, at least 10 people were set to testify against him, including two co-conspirators and one juvenile who also is charged for his role in the burglary and beating of 85-year-old Lawrence Szaloy of Tucumcari.
Jones, wearing glasses and orange jumpsuit from the county jail, said little during the hearing except to briefly answer questions from District Judge Albert Mitchell.
Jones’ attorney, Jonathan Miller of Albuquerque, said a presentencing examination likely would reveal Jones’ deep-seated problems from a “horrific life” where his mother is incarcerated and he doesn’t know his father. Jones also has a lengthy criminal record as a juvenile, Miller said.
“There are clearly some issues, some deep issues, the report would uncover,” he said.
Miller said he knows “it’s a reach,” but he would request from Mitchell a conditional discharge so Jones can join the armed services.
After the hearing, Miller said, “This is a horrific crime. My client has deep remorse for the victim in this case.”
Assistant prosecutor Heidi Adams still was prosecuting cases after Jones’ case was adjourned and wasn’t available for comment. An email to District Attorney Timothy Rose requesting comment went unanswered.
Adams said Jones and three other males broke into Szaloy’s trailer while he was asleep, cut his phone lines, tied him up with his own belt, demanded money, then kicked and pistol-whipped him as his residence was ransacked. She said the beating opened a large cut on Szaloy’s head that required 20 stitches.
Adams said the burglars took Szaloy’s watch, pocketknife, cellphone, pickup truck and a safe containing $1,300 in cash. She said the theft of Szaloy’s cellphone and the cut cords for the landline left him unable to call for help for some time.
Szaloy’s truck later was recovered, and Jones’ DNA was found in the vehicle, she said.
Two Tucumcari men implicated in the break-in have been sentenced. Riley Severeid, 18, was sentenced in May to five years in prison. Setheria Kolyer, 19, last month was sentenced to at least 15 years behind bars. A fourth suspect, a juvenile from Albuquerque, awaits trial and eventually may be certified as an adult in the case.