BRETT JONES A/K/A BRETT A. JONES Appellant
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI Appellee
EN BANC ORDER
MICHAEL K. RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE
instant matter is before the Court, en banc, on the
Court's own motion. The Petition for Writ of Certiorari
filed by Brett Jones was granted by order of the Court signed
on July 26, 2018. Upon further consideration, the Court finds
that there is no need for further review and that the writ of
certiorari should be dismissed, as authorized by Mississippi
Rule of Appellate Procedure 17(f).
therefore, ORDERED that the writ of certiorari is hereby
DISMISS: RANDOLPH, P.J., COLEMAN, MAXWELL, BEAM AND
KITCHENS, P.J., OBJECTS TO THE ORDER WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN
STATEMENT JOINED BY WALLER, C.J., KING AND ISHEE, JJ.
KITCHENS, PRESIDING JUSTICE, OBJECTING TO THE ORDER WITH
SEPARATE WRITTEN STATEMENT:
Four justices of this Court granted the petition for writ of
certiorari filed by Brett Jones to review the
circuit court's denial of parole eligibility after a
hearing pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460,
132 S.Ct. 2455, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (2012). This Court,
en banc, heard oral argument on the
petition. Citing Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S.Ct.
718, 193 L.Ed.2d 599 (2016), Jones argues that he is not the
rare, permanently incorrigible offender who, consistent with
the Eighth Amendment, can be sentenced to a lifetime in
prison. Now, five justices dismiss Jones's petition for
certiorari, finding "no need for further
review." Thus the majority, without deigning to provide
any discussion of the arguments presented to this Court,
waves aside the United States Supreme Court's decision in
Montgomery and allows an unconstitutional sentence
When Brett Jones, now age twenty-nine, was fifteen years of
age, he stabbed his grandfather to death. He was convicted of
murder, and the Circuit Court of Lee County imposed a
mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. See Miss.
Code Ann. § 97-3-21 (Rev. 2006). By operation of
Mississippi Code Section 47-7-3(1)(h) (Rev. 2011),
Jones's life sentence rendered him ineligible for parole.
After this Court ordered that Jones be resentenced after a
hearing and consideration of the factors from
Miller, the trial court found that Jones should not
be eligible for parole. The Court of Appeals affirmed his
conviction and sentence. Jones v. State, 938 So.2d
312 (Miss. Ct. App. 2006). In post-conviction relief
proceedings, this Court ordered that Jones be resentenced
after a hearing pursuant to Miller to determine his
entitlement to parole eligibility.
The circuit court found that Jones was not entitled to parole
eligibility. But after that decision, the United States
Supreme Court decided Montgomery, which held that
"Miller did bar life without parole . . . for
all but the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes
reflect permanent incorrigibility" and that
"Miller . . . does not leave States free to
sentence a child whose crime reflects transient immaturity to
life without parole." Id. at 734, 735. ¶4.
Despite the fact that the circuit court was without the
benefit of Montgomery when it resentenced Jones, the
Court of Appeals affirmed Jones's without-parole
sentence. This Court's dismissal of the petition for writ
of certiorari means that the decision of the Court
of Appeals will be Mississippi's final word on the
constitutionality of Jones's sentence. Because the record
does not reflect Jones's permanent incorrigibility, the
circuit court's ruling was an abuse of discretion.
Therefore, I would vacate his sentence and remand for
resentencing to life imprisonment with eligibility for
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Court of Appeals, in its opinion affirming Jones's
conviction and sentence, set forth the facts adduced at the
During August of 2004, Jones was living with his paternal
grandparents, Bertis Jones and Madge Jones. Jones's
girlfriend, Michelle Austin, had run away from home in the
first week of August 2004. Austin was staying mostly at
Jones's grandparents' home, as well as at an
abandoned fish restaurant near the home. One August 9, 2004,
Bertis Jones discovered Austin in Jones's bedroom and
told her to get out of his house. Austin then ran to the fish
restaurant. According to her testimony at trial, both Jones
and his cousin, Jacob, later came and told her that Jones was
"in big trouble" with his grandfather. Austin
testified that she asked Jones, "What are you going to
do? Kill him?" Austin testified that Jones did not
respond to this question. Austin also testified that Jones
"said that he was going to hurt his granddaddy."
Jones testified that at about 4 p.m., he went into the
kitchen to make a sandwich, and he and the victim got into an
argument. Jones "sassed" him, at which point the
argument escalated. Jones testified that his grandfather got
in his face, pointing and yelling at him. He testified that
his grandfather had never done that before. He testified that
his grandfather then pushed him, that he pushed him back, and
his grandfather then swung at him. Jones testified that he
had a steak knife in his hand from making a sandwich, and
because he "didn't have anywhere to go between the
corner and him," he "threw the knife forward,"
stabbing his grandfather. He testified that his grandfather
backed up, looked at the wound, and came at Jones again.
Jones again stabbed him and tried to get past his
grandfather. Jones testified that his grandfather grabbed
him, they fought some more, and Jones then grabbed a filet
knife. He stabbed his grandfather with this knife. Jones
I was stabbing him because I was afraid, I didn't know
anything else to do because he was so huge. He's not
really a big looking man until he gets in your face with his
hands up and swinging at you, and then he turns into a giant.
And you just feel like there's no way out, no way to get
away from him.
After they "got outside," Jones testified that he
knew his grandfather was going to die if he did not try to
save him, so he tried to administer CPR. He then tried to
carry his grandfather, who was not breathing at that point,
into the house "[m]ostly to get him out of the
yard." Jones then pulled the body into the laundry room
and shut the door. Jones used a water hose to try and clean
the blood off of his arms, and then threw his shirt in the
garbage under the sink. He then attempted to cover up the
blood spots in the carport by pulling his grandfather's
car over them. Jones testified that he walked around the
house and saw Robert "Frisco" Ruffner; at this
point, Jones was covered in blood.
Ruffner, who was living with and doing yard work for Thomas
Lacastro, a neighbor at the time, testified that he had
"heard an old man, you know, like holler out he was in
pain," and about two or three minutes later, he saw
Jones walking toward him covered in blood. Ruffner testified
that Jones was carrying a knife, trembling and saying,
"Kill, kill." Ruffner then ran into the house and
Thomas Lacastro arrived while Ruffner was on the phone with
the police, and Ruffner related to Lacastro what he had seen.
Ruffner was hysterical at the time, and Lacastro did not, at
first, believe him. Ruffner told Lacastro that Jones had
killed his grandfather. Lacastro then saw Jones in the bushes
and asked him to come over to his house. Lacastro testified
that Jones was pale and "had some blood on him."
Lacastro testified that he asked Jones, "Where's
your grandfather?" Jones answered, "He's
gone," and Lacastro responded, "No, he's not
gone. His car is right there, Brett." Jones again tried
to say that his grandfather had left, but Lacastro told him,
"Brett, you're lying. You need to get out of my
yard." At some point during the conversation, Jones told
Lacastro that the blood was fake and that "it's a
joke." Lacastro responded, "It's not a joke,
son. This is not a joke. This is real."
Lacastro testified that Jones then went back toward the
bushes, where he met a young lady. He testified that the two
walked "up and down the bushes . . . [a]nd then . . .
out toward the levee." Lacastro told Jones before he
left that he had called the police. After Jones and the young
lady left, Lacastro went over to the bushes where they had
been "milling around" and saw an oil pan covered in
blood. He then went into the carport and saw more blood, but
did not go any farther.
Jones testified that when he left the property, he was trying
to go to Wal-Mart to meet his grandmother because he
"wanted to tell her what happened." He and Austin
ran through the woods to a convenience store, where a man
asked them if they needed a ride. Jones testified that they
got to a gas station in Nettleton, Mississippi, and were
trying to get a ride to the Wal-Mart in Tupelo, Mississippi,
when police apprehended them.
Jones and Austin gave the officers false names. Officer Gary
Turner of Nettleton began a pat-down of Jones and found a
pocketknife in his left pocket. Officer Turner asked whether
it was the knife Jones "did it with," to which
Jones responded, "No, I already got rid of it."
When Investigator Steve White went to investigate the home of
Bertis Jones, he found Bertis Jones's body concealed in a
utility room in the back of the carport. He found that
someone had apparently used a car, an oil pan and a mat to
conceal puddles of blood. Investigator White also found a
bloodstained T-shirt in the carport, as well as more
bloodstained clothing in the kitchen trash can. Officers also
found a filet knife in the kitchen sink and a bent steak
knife with blood on the tip of it. There were blood spatters
on the walls.
There were a total of eight stab wounds to the body of Bertis
Jones. There were also abrasions consistent with the
body's having been dragged, and cuts on the hand
classified as "defensive posturing injuries." The
cause of death was a stab wound to the chest.
Jones was convicted of murder in the Circuit Court of Lee
County and sentenced to life imprisonment in the ...