The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney:
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations early Thursday afternoon to return guilty verdicts and true findings across the board against the trial defendant.
Defendant Thomas Dean Jones, age 66, formerly of the Talmage area and Oregon, was found guilty of the special circumstances premeditated murder (1st degree) of Jamie Eugene Wilcox, his stepson, as charged as Count One.
The jury found true allegations of special circumstances alleging that the killing of Mr. Wilcox was for financial gain and committed by means of lying in wait, as well as a special allegation that the defendant personally and intentionally used a firearm to kill Mr. Wilcox.
In a second count, the defendant was found guilty of the attempted murder in the first degree of Jayme Schneider Garden, the spouse of Mr. Wilcox.
In regards to this separate crime, the jury found true two special allegations alleging that the defendant inflicted great bodily injury on Mr. Garden and that the defendant personally and intentionally used a firearm to inflict that great bodily injury.
Finally, the jury found true sentencing enhancement allegations that the defendant was previously convicted in February 1979 of three separate armed robberies in Lake County, as well as an additional three separate armed robberies in Sonoma County.
The murder and attempted murder were perpetrated at a family compound on Twining Road on September 23, 2020 just after 8 o’clock in the morning as the two victims were in their car and preparing to head into town to go to work.
It is noted that the defendant, against judicial and other advice, opted to exercise his constitutional right to self-represent and act as his own attorney leading up to and during the course of the jury trial.
After the jury was excused, the defendant’s bail status was converted to no bail. He then demanded a speedy sentencing hearing.
With that the defendant’s case was referred to the Mendocino County Adult Probation Department for a background study and recommendation. Such a report is used and relied upon by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for prison system classification purposes.
The defendant’s formal sentencing hearing is now scheduled for March 17, 2022 at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department A of the Ukiah courthouse.
Because special circumstances were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the mandatory sentence that now must be imposed on defendant Jones is life without parole (LWOP) in state prison.
The law enforcement agency that developed the evidence underlying the defendant’s convictions was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
The Ukiah Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife provided mutual aid back on the morning of September 23, 2020. The District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations provided victim/witness and trial support.
The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury and argued for the verdicts that were returned by the jury was District Attorney David Eyster.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder presided over the four-day trial. He will also preside over the sentencing hearing in March.
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