Roger Jones is led from the courtroom by Mason County Deputies Charles Denny and Mark Wilt after his conviction on murder and aggravated robbery charges Monday.

Photo by Sidney Boggs

By David Hedges Publisher Times Record-Roane County Reporter

The story told by Roger Eric Jones when the 32-year-old Calhoun County man testified in his own defense Friday wasn't enough to keep him from being convicted of murder.

On Monday a Mason County jury found Jones guilty in the slaying of his former neighbor, Oral "Sam" Jett, who was 83 at the time of his death.

The seven-man, five woman jury deliberated less than two hours Monday afternoon before returning with guilty verdicts on all charges, including first degree murder, aggravated robbery, malicious assault, committing a violent crime against the elderly and petit larceny.

It took the same jury less than ten minutes to decide that the conviction would be "without mercy," which means Jones will spend the rest of his life in prison without chance for parole.

The trial was moved to Mason County because Judge David Nibert feared Jones could not get a fair trial in Roane County. Jones is also charged with the slaying of another elderly man who lived alone about one week before Jett's death. That case is scheduled to go to trial in Mason County in September.

Jones told jurors that Jett was helping him on a drug deal that went bad when he was killed. Jett's blood-covered body was found next to his convertible automobile on an isolated road near Amma in early January of last year.

Jones said he was riding in the front passenger seat and Jett was driving when one of two men in the back seat of the car, also allegedly involved in the drug deal, started assaulting Jett. Sex also was a motive in Jones' story, since the man dated a woman who admitted to providing sexual favors for Jett, who gave her money in return.

The two men accused by Jett, David Ferrell and Dan Shamblin, both testified and said Jones' story was untrue. Both denied being in the car or having anything to do with Jett's death.

Perhaps the most damaging testimony came from the last witness called by prosecuting attorney Mark Sergent. Jones' former girlfriend, Jamie Jarvis, has already pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in both murder cases.

Jarvis said she and Jones and their baby shared a home, living off her welfare check and his disability check. She said they used marijuana and methamphetamine and often had financial problems.

On the night of Jett's death, Jarvis said Jones had her drop him off at Jett's residence near the Kanawha County line, and gave her instructions about picking him up at another spot near Amma later that night.

When she did pick him up, Jarvis said Jones was covered in blood when he climbed in the trunk of her car. She said they talked about the killing later that night at home.

Jarvis said Jones told her, " 'I beat the old f---er's brains out'." She said Jones put a knife to her throat and said he would kill her and her baby if she ever told what happened.

Sheriff Todd Cole said Jones had confessed to police that he killed Jett.

Cole said that Jones said he went to Jett's home and asked for a ride to Amma. Jones said when he demanded money from Jett, Jett produced a pistol and Jones hit him with a rock. He said he then took Jett's wallet.

A starter pistol that fires blanks was found inside Jett's car.

A medical examiner testified that Jett sustained seven blows to the head as well as blows to his neck and hands. He said Jett had also been choked.

A forensics specialist from the State Police crime lab testified that a boot belonging to Jones had Jett's blood on it, as did a flashlight Jones allegedly borrowed from Jarvis' mother. A miniature baseball bat was found beneath Jett's body.

Jones' mother and other family members testified that Jones had admitted to doing bad things, and said he would have to leave the area. They also said they saw him with a credit card which appeared to have Jett's name on it ...