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Jones found guilty in Club Jacksons death
Thomas Lee Jones, Jr.
    A few days short of a year afterward, a Bulloch County jury found  Thomas Lee Jones, Jr. guilty  Thursday of the Oct. 28, 2007,  shooting death of a man at Club Jackson’s on Old Register Road. Bulloch County Superior Court Judge F. Gates Peed presided over the case.
    The jury deliberated about three and a half hours Thursday, the fourth day of the trial, said Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Daphne Jarriel, prosecutor for the case.
    The jury found Jones, 22, Copeland Road, Lyons, guilty on all charges, she said.
    The victim,  Julius Isaac McReynolds, 19, was found between Club Jackson’s and an adjacent bar, Apex, on Old Register Road shortly after midnight Oct. 28 2007, suffering from fatal gunshot wounds.
    Jarriel told jurors McReynolds, from Hephzibah,  had traveled to Statesboro for the weekend with his brother and several friends to celebrate Homecoming weekend at Georgia Southern University.
    Witnesses testified Jones and several of his friends came from Lyons to attend the events at Club Jackson’s, paying $100 a car to park near the club entrance in the “VIP” or preferred parking area, Jarriel said. Only four cars were parked in  the VIP area that night.
    For unknown reasons a fight broke out inside the club between McReynolds and Jones, whom witnesses said had never met before.  Others joined in, and bouncers evicted about a dozen men from the bar, she said.
    More than 20 witnesses testified for the state, including Georgia Southern University employee Ramona Howard, who testified seeing a man in an orange shirt get a gun out of a car in the VIP section  (later determined to be a white Chrysler 300 Jones was driving) and begin shooting at McReynolds.
    U.S. Army employee Tameisha Pearmain testified she was driving down Old Register Road when she saw “a black male  in an orange shirt chasing the victim out of the driveway of Club Jackson’s and down the side of Old Register Road, firing multiple rounds in the direction of the victim as he fled on foot,” Jarriel said.
     McReynolds’ friend Desmond Walters testified at trial that he was running along side McReynolds and was grazed on the leg by bullet fragments, she said.
    “McReynolds ran down Old Register Road into the parking lot of ...  Club Apex, where he collapsed... (and) was shot three times, once in the upper left portion of his back, his right leg, and his left ankle,”  she said.
     Dr. Edmund Donaghue, medical examiner with the GBI crime lab, testified that McReynolds died of multiple gunshot wounds.
    Several officers arrived at the scene and Statesboro Police Det. Rob Bryan located and questioned Jones when trying to determine who owned the four vehicles parked in the VIP section.
    “Jones was arrested for (making false statements) the night of the shooting after he lied to the police and told them that he had ridden in the Chrysler 300 as a passenger and that the vehicle had been driven by his friend Shone Hunt,” Jarriel said.
    Hunt testified at trial that he met up with Jones after the shooting and gave Jones his shirt at the request of Jones who had removed his orange shirt. “ Hunt testified he initially lied to police by telling them that he had was the driver of the white Chrysler 300 because Jones had asked him to lie for him,” she said.
Warrants for murder
    After conducting further witness interviews and other investigative efforts, lead case detective Statesboro Police  Det. Terry Briley took warrants for murder and aggravated assault for Jones three days after the shooting, Jarriel said.
    Further investigation showed Jones fired nine rounds from a .40 caliber pistol, according to testimony from Statesboro Det. Sgt. James Winskey. Shell casings were found at the base of the driveway of the front entrance into Club Jackson’s as well as in the ditch area alongside Old Register Road, he said.
    Attorney John Edwin Morrison, of Soperton, represented Jones throughout the case and maintained a defense that Jones was not the shooter, arguing that Lee Polk, Jones’ friend and passenger, was the shooter.
     Several witnesses, including Statesboro Police Lt. Tony Gore and club owner Maurice Jackson, who were both at the scene when  the shooting occurred,  testified they observed a black male dressed in a yellow and black t-shirt go to the Chrysler 300 and obtain a gun, Jarriel said.
      Gore and Jackson said they were standing by the building when the shooting occurred and saw the man, later  identified as Polk, enter the vehicle.  “Jackson testified that he observed the man acting suspiciously and asked Lt. Gore to go check him out  ...  and the man appeared to toss something into the vehicle,” she said.
    According to testimony,  Polk fled on foot and Gore yelled for him to stop. Then Gore went to vehicle and saw where Polk had tossed a handgun into the floorboard.
    “It was determined the night of the shooting that the handgun tossed into the  (car)  was not fired, but it was sent to the GBI crime lab for further testing and comparison to the shell casings collected by Det. Sgt. Winskey,” she said.
    Georgia Bureau of Investigations tests proved the shell casings collected at the scene were not fired from the firearm Polk tossed into the vehicle, but appeared to have been fired from the same firearm, which expert witnesses said was a .40 caliber Taurus pistol.
    “The murder weapon used by Jones nor the orange shirt that he was seen wearing shortly before the shooting were ever recovered,” Jarriel said.
    In her closing arguments, Jarriel said Jones “had a clear-cut motive and that his intent to kill was apparent from the nine rounds that he fired as he chased McReynolds down Old Register Road.”
    She told jurors that a finding of guilty on all counts would “send a message to Jones and others that this type of violence should not and will not be tolerated in our community.”
    The jury found Jones guilty on counts of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, false statements and writings, discharging a firearm on or near a public highway, possession of a deadly weapons at public gatherings, and carrying a weapon within a school safety zone.
    Sentencing for Jones  is scheduled for November 13, Jarriel said.
    Shortly prior to the Oct. 2007 shooting, Jones was arrested in Toombs County on cocaine trafficking charges, and was released on a $100,000 property bond set by a Toombs County Superior Court judge.
    For the conviction of the murder of McReynolds, Jones faces a life sentence plus ten years if sentenced to the maximum on all felony charges, she said.  He faces thirty six months on the misdemeanor counts.

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