CBS News reports that Mary Virginia Jones, imprisoned for 32 years for murder, has been freed at the age of 74. Jones has maintained for the entirety of her sentence that she is innocent. And finally, a judge agrees.
Jones had been convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery. Prosecutors had alleged that she had accompanied her boyfriend in 1981 in the commission of all those crimes. But Jones has said all along that she was not an accomplice, but feared for her own life the whole time. She said that she drove her boyfriend where he told her to go because he turned his gun on her.
Jones' case was looked into by the University of Southern California's Post-Conviction Justice Project. They brought Jones' claims to light. Jones said her boyfriend, Mose Willis, kidnapped two drug dealers and forced her to drive to an alley, where he then shot both of them. Only one of the men died, leaving the other to testify that both Willis and Jones had committed the crime.
Jones was sentenced to life without parole. Willis was sentenced to death. He died while on death row.
A week before, Willis had shot at Jones' daughter, Denitra Jones-Goodie, and then threatened to kill them both if they told police.
"He pulled a gun on me and shot at me, and my mother witnessed that," said Jones-Goodie. "And he threatened to not only kill me but to kill her and anybody else that came to our aid."
The Post-Conviction Project said that Jones had never had the chance to present these facts in her trial, thus the jury never had the chance to consider them. The wheels of justice turned painfully slowly, but now Jones is free, 32 years later.
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