Man once acquitted of murder pleads guilty to robbery charge

RADFORD – A man acquitted of capital murder in 2008 entered a guilty plea to robbery and drug possession Friday and was sentenced to five years in prison.

James Reginald Jones, 25, pleaded guilty to robbery in connection with the incident that put him on trial for murder in August 2008. Jones also pleaded guilty to an unrelated possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

Jones was found not guilty in August 2008 of capital murder for the July 2006 shooting death of Ken Henry, but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of robbery. The three charges carried a minimum of an eight year sentence but could have meant up to a life sentence for Jones.

However, when the jury deliberated on sentencing for Jones, members were unable to come to a unanimous decision on a sentence recommendation, leading to Judge Joey Showalter to declare a mistrial.

Friday, Showalter sentenced Jones to 30 years with 25 years suspended on the robbery charge and 20 years with 15 years suspended on the drug charge.

According to Radford Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Rehak, the drug offense occurred February 28, 2006, four months prior to the robbery. The sentences run concurrent for a total of five years to serve with ten years of supervised probation upon release.

Jones has been held without bond since his arrest three years ago. The second trial of Jones was set for this November.

Rehak said a combination of witness credibility and the “fluke” outcome of Jones’ previous trial led to the plea agreement.

“The plea agreement comes not as a result of deficient evidence but rather compounding critical witness credibility issues,” Rehak said. “The plea became a government option only after the 2008 murder trial ended on a fluke much to defendant’s benefit. The jury convicted defendant on robbery and a weapons charge, but unfortunately could not unanimously agree on the sentence to impose.”

“The Commonwealth was disappointed to find the remedy for this unusual situation required a mistrial rather than a new sentencing jury,” Rehak continued.

“Ironically an error during sentencing would allow the convictions to stand and a new jury set punishment, but a deadlocked sentencing jury requires the entire trial be done all over again.”

“The Jones murder trial is a perfect example of why this procedural rule should be changed and underscores the importance of teamwork and unity as jurors need to all agree on guilt as well as the ensuing punishment phase.”

Henry, 39, was shot to death on July 5, 2006 in Radford in the apartment of Kelly Brubeck, Jones’ then-girlfriend. Brubeck has been charged with second degree murder and other charges in the case.

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