On Tuesday afternoon, a Montgomery County jury unanimously decided to sentence Kevin Dewayne Jones to 12 years in prison for the murder of Nathan Strong.
Jurors hear testimony in sentencing phase
Another unusual situation was added to the growing list in the murder trial of Kevin Dewayne Jones Monday in the 9th District Court of Fred Edwards. Jones was found guilty on Friday and the sentencing phase began on Monday, but Judge Edwards first told the courtroom that a juror had “encountered the defendant” at some point prior to the start of the hearing, but that the incident was discussed and jurors were ready to proceed.
Defense attorneys began by requesting that Edwards declare a mistrial, apparently based on information that was discussed privately with prosecutors and the judge. Edwards promptly denied the motion.
The defense then stated for the record that they earlier requested the judge dismiss the jury and impose sentencing, which Edwards also denied.
On scene video from KFC on Sept. 1, 2006 by Scott J. Engle
After a week of witness testimony, followed by a unanimous guilty verdict on Friday, jurors began hearing testimony in the sentencing phase of the trial, which began with the victim’s family members discussing their loss and ended with Jones’ family and friends portraying him as someone who would “give you the shirt off his back.”
Dennis Strong, victim Nathan Strong’s father, was the first witness called by prosecutors Sylvia Yarborough and Joel Daniels.
Strong, a Vietnam veteran who watched the entire trial from his wheelchair, showed the courtroom his slain son’s Boy Scout merit badges. Under questioning by Daniels, Strong said his son reached the level just below Eagle Scout, but lost interest in almost everything when his brother Christopher was murdered.
Nathan Strong was the second son of Dennis and Emma Strong murdered in Montgomery County, he said.
Christopher Strong was caught in the crossfire of a fight that didn’t involve him and a bullet struck an artery in his neck and died soon after. Dennis Strong said the event began a downhill spiral for Nathan, who quit Boy Scouts and stopped caring about school.
“He was closer to his brother than to anybody on the face of the earth,” Dennis Strong said. “I knew what he was going through but there was nothing I could do to help him.”
After Nathan fell in love and became a father, he began to care about something again, his father said.
“(Tasha Dosia) was the love of his life,” Strong said.
Dosia and her three children now live with Dennis and Emma Strong.
Dosia testified next about how she and Nathan Strong met and began dating a week later, and later fell in love and became parents together. The couple separated for a while during their lengthy relationship and Dosia became pregnant with another man’s child. When she and Strong reunited, he accepted and loved the child as his own and hoped to one day legally adopt the boy, she said.
The court liaison assigned to oversee the conditions of Jones’ release on bond and house arrest was called by the prosecution. She testified that while Jones never had his bond revoked, he had numerous warnings for various actions and violations including being in the company of a convicted felon, once answering the phone when she called to monitor his whereabouts and telling her he (Jones) was not at home, and another time telling her she was “nosy” and asking if she wanted “to know his underwear size.”
The official testified that her office hours were 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and when she called Jones at 8:05 p.m. he asked “if it wasn’t a little too late to be calling.”
Jones also complained that he felt like he was “already in prison,” she said.
The official testified that she did not feel Jones would be a good candidate for probation.
The defense pointed out that Jones never failed a drug test during her supervision.
Numerous witnesses testified for the defense, including James Moore, a white man who said Jones changed his racist beliefs about African Americans and became a close family friend.
Jones’ aunt, who posted his bond, called him a “loving person who was always willing to help others.”
A second aunt, Annie Kelly-Warren, said she “raised him almost as her son,” and also testified that he was a loving and gentle person. Kelly-Warren said the family would be “devastated” if Jones went to prison and that his children needed their father.
Jones’ 16-year-old son was in the courtroom on Monday.
She also said she feared Jones would be a “victim of violence” in prison because of his handicap and would be victimized if certain groups learned he killed a white man.
After more witnesses reiterated the defense contentions that Jones was a gentleman and no threat to society, both sides rested and the jury was told to return today to conclude the sentencing phase of the trial.
December 8, 2008
A Montgomery County jury in the 9th District Court of Judge Fred Edwards found Kevin Dewayne Jones guilty of first-degree murder on Friday, in the Sept. 1, 2006 death of his friend, Nathan Strong. After four days of testimony, it took only a few hours for the group to reach a unanimous decision.
Jones’ family and friends sat behind him and on the prosecution side of the courtroom sat Strong’s parents and his widow, along with family friends and police who were involved in the investigation.
As the jury returned to the courtroom and sat down, only one juror looked directly at Jones. When the guilty verdict was read, there was silence in the courtroom, with no outbursts or even audible reactions from either side. Keeping with the persona shown throughout the trial, Jones had no real visible reaction.
Defense attorney Heather Hall asked the jury be polled and one-by-one they confirmed their conclusion that Jones was guilty.
Prosecutor Sylvia Yarborough requested Edwards revoke, Jones’ bond so that he would be held in the Montgomery County Jail through the sentencing phase of the trial. In a surprising twist, Edwards denied the prosecution’s request. Jones, who is unemployed and considered disabled, exited the courtroom with his supporters.
Glen Holmes, another accused killer, was in custody in Montgomery County for the May 18, 2006 murder of Barry Thomas until he was released on a reduced bond three months later and he disappeared. Holmes was arrested to face capital murder charges for Thomas’ death the following year. His bond was set at only $75,000, which he promptly posted and was again released and again disappeared.
Despite widespread publicity, which included a feature on the television program America’s Most Wanted, Holmes is still a fugitive two years and seven months after allegedly shooting Thomas at a local fast food drive through and leaving him to die in an alley because Holmes wanted his car.
Jones is scheduled to be in Edwards’ court this morning to begin the sentencing phase.
Watch Montgomery County News for more details and updates.
Defense: Shooter “loved” the deceased
By Jamie Nash
December 5, 2008
Murder defendant Kevin Dewayne Jones showed no emotion Wednesday afternoon as Montgomery County prosecutor Sylvia Yarborough displayed graphic crime scene photos taken two years ago, after he shot his friend inside a local fast food restaurant. The trial began Tuesday in the 9th District Court of Judge Fred Edwards.
Just before midnight on Sept. 1, 2006, shots rang out in the KFC in the 1400 block of Loop 336 in Conroe. When the dust settled, 25-year-old Nathan Strong lay dead on the floor with gunshot wounds to the chest and head and Jones was facing the fight of his life.
The two men, both residents of Bedias, which is in Grimes County about 20 miles west of Huntsville, spent the afternoon together drinking then returned to the restaurant to pick up their wives who worked there.
The pair arrived in a 2005 Ford Taurus. A few hours later, Strong left the location in a body bag and Jones left in the back of a patrol car.
On Tuesday, Yarborough and lead defense attorney Andrea Kolski began trying to sort out and debate what happened in the interim.
Officials with the Conroe Police Department said there was alcohol, prescription drugs, a 12-gauge shotgun, a .45 caliber pistol and ammunition for both weapons inside the vehicle. The nine-man, three-woman jury viewed photos supporting those claims Wednesday afternoon.
Also introduced was a photo of a receipt with the date of the shooting from Academy Sports and Outdoors, which showed shotgun shells were purchased with Jones’ debit card.
CPD Detective Juan Sauceda, who led the investigation, testified that the surveillance video equipment inside the restaurant was not working at the time of the shooting. He was questioned at length by both sides regarding the evidence collected, the questioning of the defendant and other parts of the investigation.
Kolski portrayed Jones as someone who was disabled, taking pain medication that would deter aggression and who loved Strong, but was trying to stop Strong from choking his (Strong’s) common-law wife to death.
Throughout testimony, Kolski referred to Strong as the “complainant” and not the “victim” or the “deceased.”
She said Jones was injured and claimed he repeatedly (over the course of an hour) asked for his medication, which was inside the vehicle he was driving along with a large quantity of alcoholic beverages according to crime scene photos. Open beer cans were visible in the driver and passenger sides of a drink holder between the front seats.
When Kolski asked why Sauceda didn’t “give (Jones) his medication” during the “hour or so” of questioning, Sauceda replied, “I’m not a doctor, I can’t administer medication.”
Kolski said an elbow injury was the reason Jones had both Soma and Vicodin in the car. She did not address the alcohol or empty alcohol containers.
Sauceda testified that there were crushed beer cans of the same brand inside the business and he could smell alcohol when he walked inside.
Public records show Jones has prior convictions for driving while intoxicated and driving while license suspended.
CPD Crime Scene Investigator Benjamin Mitchell testified after Sauceda regarding official photos and videos from the scene, which were shown on two large screens. Some of the visuals were shattered glass, shell casings and crushed beer cans. However, several photos and some of the video showed an up close view of Strong, dead on the floor in a pool of his own blood behind the counter in the KFC after a shotgun blast that blew apart his head and another that struck his chest. There were also images of blood spattered over the area, including on drink cups and even the ceiling.
One juror covered his mouth with his hand. Another looked down and then back up at the screen. Some jurors repeatedly looked at the screen, and then turned their eyes toward the defendant who watched with no visible reaction, despite repeated claims by Kolski that he “loved” Strong.
Mitchell testified regarding the location and position of evidence, and Strong’s body. Mitchell said because of Strong’s position, he had to be turned over in order to reach some of his pockets where his identification was located, as well as an open pocket knife. There was no immediate explanation for the open knife in his pocket. It was later stated that Strong threatened and cut Jones with the knife, but no evidence was shown to support that contention on Wednesday or Thursday. Mitchell agreed with Kolski there was some blood on the blade, but said it was on the side of Strong’s body that was laying in his blood.
Kolski attempted to impeach Mitchell’s testimony regarding the shots fired that night, demanding details of his training. The attempt failed since Mitchell was trained by the FBI in one of the areas in question and is an instructor in another. When she complained that he was not an expert in the area of trajectory, Yarborough said he was not listed as an expert and had not been asked questions requiring expertise in that field. Judge Edwards agreed, saying Mitchell was asked based on the location of the evidence to state approximately where the shooter was standing which he said was “quite frankly, just common sense.”
Thursday began with additional prosecution witnesses, and ended with testimony by witnesses for the defense, including the defendant.