Prosecutors pin hopes in 1988 murder on DNA tests


Herald Writer

A Snohomish County judge set a Tuesday deadline for completion of new scientific tests on blood found at the scene of a 1988 Bothell-area murder.

If the test results aren’t ready by Dec. 31, genetic "fingerprint" evidence won’t be allowed at the Jan. 16 murder trial of Jerry B. Jones Jr., 54, now of Redmond, Superior Court Judge Gerald Knight ruled.

Jones was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the stabbing death of his wife, Lee Jones, 41. He spent a decade behind bars before a federal judge tossed out the conviction and freed him in early 1999, setting the stage for a retrial.

Genetic tests were not done on the bloody clothing that Jones was wearing when police came to his home. The then-fledgling technology had not yet been accepted for use in Washington courts, deputy prosecutor Ron Doersch said.

Prosecutors want genetic tests now so they can say with certainty whose blood is on Jerry Jones’ clothing, Doersch said. They’ve also asked experts at the state crime lab to give their opinion on how the blood got on Jones’ clothing.

Jones has maintained his wife was killed by an intruder whom he suspects was a then teen-age boy from his neighborhood. Jones testified the blood on his clothing came from trying to comfort his dying wife and also from a cut on his hand he received while fighting with the intruder.

Prosecutors maintain Jones cut his hand when it slipped on the blood-slick knife used to kill his wife.

New tests also are being planned for the knife and a shower curtain at the crime scene.

The tests should answer "where did the blood come from? Whose is it? How did it get there?" Doersch told the judge.

Zuckerman said the tests are fine, but he and his client have been waiting for months to see the results. Jones’ lawyer told the judge he may move for dismissal if the test results arrive so near trial that his client can’t reasonably respond.

Knight said he’ll solve that problem by simply barring admission of test results if they aren’t available to the defense by the end of December.

Zuckerman said he does not expect to learn that a third party’s blood is on Jerry Jones’ clothing because there is no indication the person Jones has implicated in his wife’s death was injured.

The defense attorney said he is most concerned that Jones will be forced, on short notice, to rebut some new theory about Lee Jones’ killing based on a recent analysis of blood spattered on clothing and other items at the crime scene.

Investigators "chose not to do a lot of testing at the time," he said. "They just relied on the theory that no one else was present" for the killing except Jerry Jones.

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