Defense Attorney: “Nine minutes” between Laurel’s kills could take the death penalty off the table
SIOUX CITY (KTIV) — For the first time, prosecutors have offered a timeline for the quadruple homicides that occurred in Laurel, Nebraska last August.
They say the murders, which occurred at two different crime scenes several blocks apart, occurred just nine minutes apart. And those nine minutes are a basis for the defendant, Jason Jones, to argue that the death penalty should be taken off the table.
Prosecutors say Jason Jones spent nine minutes between his first three alleged murders and his last in a different location. A judge will have to decide whether those nine minutes constitute a single criminal transaction. If not, the death penalty could be taken off the table.
“The Supreme Court has clarified what that means in the same settlement. But it is not very clear what the transaction itself means. Are they two separate murders? (It’s) the same conspiracy, it’s not clear,” said Todd Lancaster, agency counsel for the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy.
During a hearing Monday, Jones’ attorney also argued that Nebraska’s death penalty system, in which three judges ultimately decide on the sentence, is unconstitutional.
“And there’s some demand and my argument is that there should be more, there should be more standards and oversight than just county prosecutors,” Lancaster said.
Prosecutors did not present any evidence at Monday’s hearing, but argued that Nebraska has a long history of allowing the death penalty. Lancaster acknowledged that the state Supreme Court has frequently ruled against him, although he feels the need to use all available arguments given the importance of the case.
The judge indicated that he would rule after March 17, when the final briefing of the motion to overturn the death penalty is due.
Lancaster said the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy provides death penalty defense attorneys at no cost to the counties.
His wife, Carrie Jones, is also accused of one of the murders. You will have a pre-trial hearing Wednesday at 1pm in the Cedar County Courthouse
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