Isaac Jones Found Guilty Of Second-Degree Murder

Sentencing Range Is 20-25 Years

Friday, June 17, 2005
Julie Jacks
Julie Jacks

A jury from Nashville on Friday morning found Isaac Jones guilty of second-degree murder in the slaying of Chattanooga Police Officer Julie Jacks.

The state had sought a first-degree murder conviction and the death penalty for Jones.

Jones faces a sentence of 20-25 years. He would have to serve at least 85 percent.

Judge Doug Meyer will set the sentence on Aug. 15.

The Jacks family seemed stunned by the verdict. The victim's mother and sister hugged and cried in the front row of the crowded courtroom.

The three defense attorneys were also hugging near the judge's bench. Defense attorney Karla Gothard said the defense was pleased by the verdict.

The Jacks family met with District Attorney Bill Cox, then left the Courts Building without commenting.

Mr. Cox said, "This is the jury system. The jury heard both sides and made their decision."

Police Chief Steve Parks said he had believed it was a first-degree murder case.

Ms. Gothard disagreed, saying, "We told the jury all along this was not a first-degree murder case."

She said of Jones, "I have never had a client who showed so much genuine remorse. He wants to express that to the Jacks family, but he did not want to do so in a media circus."

She said Jones "absolutely" will always remain on medication. She said he has asked what if he is released from prison and cannot afford his medication. He is concerned that "heaven forbid anything should happen again."

Ms. Gothard said Jones has "a keen understanding and insight into his mental illness."

The defense had contended that Jones was mentally ill at the time of the slaying of Officer Jacks on May 6, 2002.

She was shot seven times with her own weapon at Vine and Kilmer streets after Jones bolted from Parkridge Hospital, where he had been taken for a mental evaluation.

He has displayed bizarre behavior at Chattanooga State Community College, where he was completing work in a pharmacy tech program.

Ms. Gothard said she and Jones had "shared a Bible verse throughout the trial - Romans 8:28. All things work together for good to those who trust God."

She said the death penalty "would not have brought closure. There would have been at least a decade of appeals."

She said Jones has "a very supportive church and family." She said his sister from California has been here for the past week. She said, "She kept telling me to tell Ike that she loves him."

The jury on Thursday afternoon said it seemed deadlocked, but Judge Meyer asked the panel to continue to try to reach a verdict after a night's rest.

The jury returned at 8:30 a.m., then knocked that they had a verdict about an hour later.

There was an overflow crowd in the courtroom to hear the verdict that came at the end of a two-week trial.

Several defense witnesses testified that Jones was schizophrenic and had a number of pressures in his life, including his grandmother's illness, the death of an uncle and his preparing to go off to Howard University.

Jones, who remained handcuffed during the trial under extraordinary security, did not testify.

Top Chattanooga Police officials Parks and Freeman Cooper were among those on hand for the verdict.

Jones was represented by attorneys Gothard, Mary Ann Green and Rich Heinsman.

The case was prosecuted by District Attorney Cox and Barry Steelman, his top assistant.

Judge Meyer said the names and addresses of jurors in the case would be sealed. He said during the jury selection, some jurors expressed fears about being contacted.

One juror wrote a poem during the deliberations. It is printed on the Opinion page of Chattanoogan.com.


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