State motion in criminal case against DA Mark Jones claims he ‘disregards law and ethics to win murder cases’

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Georgia Attorney General’s Office is starting to outline its case against suspended Muscogee County District Attorney Mark Jones.

The state filed a series of motions in the case late Wednesday in advance of next week’s arraignment.

One line in one of the motions jumps off the page. In a motion for admission of evidence of prior bad acts, the state sums up its case against Mark Jones this way: “District Attorney Mark Jones willfully disregards law and ethics to win murder cases at any cost.”

Jones is accused in a nine-count indictment of asking a Columbus Police officer to lie under oath so that an involuntary manslaughter case could be upgraded to the more serious charge of murder.

In the recent motion, the state used a seven-year-old murder case Jones inherited to make its point.

Rebecca Haynie and Donald Keith Phillips were indicted in August 2016 for Kirby Smith’s murder – two years after he was killed in his automobile repair shop.

Here is what one of Haynie’s attorneys, Jason Sheffield of Decatur, Ga., says happened.

“This case with Mrs. Haynie quickly started to disintegrate into chaos with Mr. Jones’ decision to evoke the death penalty,” Sheffield said. “We were very confused about that decision.”

Sheffield was interviewed by News 3 earlier in the week prior to the state’s filing.

It came during a heated battle between the prosecution and defense over subpoenaed evidence in the case, specifically raw video from the “Cold Justice” TV show that featured the case.

An upgrade in charges would have taken the entire defense team off the case because none of those lawyers were certified to try a death penalty case.

Superior Court Judge Gil McBride ruled last week before Jones was suspended, that the district attorney could not seek the death penalty because he was doing so in a vindictive manner.

Now, Jones faces his own legal problems, a nine-count indictment that alleges criminal misconduct while in office.

“He is presumed innocent, just like our client is presumed innocent,” Sheffied said “He has the right to a full and vigorous defense, which I hope he will avail himself to. But as for his decisions in the Haynie case, I hope that his defense lawyer makes better decisions than he has as district attorney.”

News 3 talked to Jones this Monday before the suspension. He said he had dropped the death penalty before McBride’s ruling. He did not respond to Sheffield’s last comment about his legal representation.

“He is presumed innocent, just like our client is presumed innocent. He has the right to a full and vigorous defense, which I hope he will avail himself to. But as for his decisions in the Haynie case, I hope that his defense lawyer makes better decisions than he has as district attorney.”

The state also asked for a bond modification for Jones.

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