Thomas Dean Jones, a 65-year-old Ukiah man charged with the September 23 murder of his step-son and attempted murder of his step-son’s husband, could face life in prison without parole or potentially the death penalty due to these charges being strike three under California’s Three Strikes sentencing laws. Jones’s original two strikes stem from a series of armed robberies in Lake and Sonoma Counties he pled guilty to in 1979.
Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster said, “All Three Strikes cases have a sentence potential of at least 25 years to life (could be more if more than one serious or violent felony charged as a new charge).” He explained the potential for the death penalty or life without parole “flows from the charging of a “special circumstance.” Eyster explained the two special circumstance allegations against Jones are “murder for financial gain and lying in wait.”
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office, Jones is charged with murder in the first degree, killing his step-son Jaime Wilcox “with deliberation and premeditation.” The criminal complaint asserts Jones committed the murder for financial gain and “committed the murder of Jamie Wilcox by means of lying in wait.” The second count against Jones is the attempted murder in the first degree of Jayme Garden, his step-son’s husband.
According to a January 10, 1979, Cloverdale Reveille article, Jones was intercepted by a police officer after robbing a Santa Rosa motel and, at that time, suspected of the “armed robbery of three Santa Rosa motels, five Lake County motels and liquor stores, and a Sacramento motel, in addition to the two Cloverdale businesses.” The article stated that Jones told arresting officers he got the idea for his robbery spree “from a television movie about a couple which turned to crime after the husband lost his job.”
A March 14, 1979 article in the Ukiah Daily Journal said Jones was committed to the Department of Corrections “for a diagnostic study and sentencing recommendation.” The article went on to state, “[t]he Department of Corrections was ordered to perform psychological and psychiatric testing and to return the defendant to the court within 90 days with a recommendation.”
In the June 18, 1979 edition of The Press Democrat, an article stated Jones admitted to the Lake County Superior Court he used “a pistol to rob two Lake County liquor stores and a Lakeport motel.” Judge John Golden sentenced Jones to five years in prison for the guilty plea that would run “concurrently with another five-year prison term given to Jones in Sonoma County Superior Court,” according to the article.
Jones’ arraignment on the most recent charges is scheduled for October 1, 2020 at 9:00 am in Courtroom A.