Man won’t face death penalty if con­victed of mur­der

Philadel­phia man charged with fa­tally stab­bing woman, un­born child

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @Mont­coCourtNews on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN » A Philadel­phia man will not face the death penalty if he is con­victed of first-de­gree mur­der in con­nec­tion with the fatal stab­bing of the mother of his un­born child in her Chel­tenham apart­ment, pros­e­cu­tors in­formed a judge.

Tris­tian Jones, 35, of the 900 block of East John­son Street, showed no emo­tion May 17 as Mont­gomery County As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Alexan­dria MacMaster no­ti­fied Judge Wendy G. Roth­stein of the district at­tor­ney’s de­ci­sion not to seek the death penalty against him. Jones is charged in con­nec­tion with the Feb. 19, 2018, fatal stab­bing of Eboney N. White, 31, and her un­born child in her apart­ment in the 2000 block of Mather Way in the Elkins Park sec­tion of Chel­tenham.

With the death penalty off the table, if Jones is con­victed of first-de­gree mur­der, which is an in­ten­tional killing, he will face a manda­tory sen­tence of life im­pris­on­ment.

Un­der state law, it’s at a for­mal ar­raign­ment hear­ing where pros­e­cu­tors must no­tify a judge about their in­ten­tions re­gard­ing the death penalty. Jones’s for­mal ar­raign­ment hear­ing was May 17.

“Ul­ti­mately, the district at­tor­ney de­cided against pur­su­ing the death penalty in this case. The vic­tim’s fam­ily has been con­sulted on the mat­ter as well and it was a joint de­ci­sion not to pur­sue the death penalty in this case,” ex­plained MacMaster, who is pros­e­cut­ing the case with As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Kris­ten Kemp.

In or­der to ob­tain a death penalty, pros­e­cu­tors must show that ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors – cir­cum­stances that make a killing more heinous – out­weigh any mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors – cir­cum­stances that fa­vor a de­fen­dant. Specif­i­cally, pros­e­cu­tors have 18 ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors, un­der state law, which they can use to seek the death penalty.

Roth­stein set Jones’s trial date for Dec. 3.

Jones, who is rep­re­sented by de­fense lawyer Car­rie L. All­man, faces charges of first- and third­de­gree mur­der, first- and third-de­gree mur­der of an un­born child, pos­ses­sion of an in­stru­ment of crime and unsworn fal­si­fi­ca­tion to au­thor­i­ties.

A con­vic­tion of third-de­gree mur­der, a killing com­mit­ted with mal­ice, car­ries a pos­si­ble max­i­mum sen­tence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

Jones, dressed in a ma­roon jail­house jump­suit, en­tered not guilty pleas to the charges May 17.

White was 7 ½ months preg­nant at the time of her death. The fe­tus did not sur­vive the at­tack.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan when Chel­tenham po­lice re­sponded to White’s apart­ment at 3:20 a.m. Feb. 19 af­ter re­ceiv­ing a 911 call from her 12-year-old daugh­ter, who had re­treated to a bath­room af­ter al­legedly see­ing Jones stab­bing her mother, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint filed by county De­tec­tive Todd Richard and Chel­tenham De­tec­tive Ron­ald Cupo.

Po­lice found White dead in the mas­ter bed­room with mul­ti­ple stab wounds to her torso. White’s 12- and 7-year-old daugh­ters were un­harmed.

White’s daugh­ter who made the 911 call told au­thor­i­ties she had seen her mother’s boyfriend, “Mr. Tris­tian,” in the door­way of her mother’s bed­room at ap­prox­i­mately 2 a.m., ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit of prob­a­ble cause. The girl re­ported she went to bed but was awak­ened by the sound of scream­ing ap­prox­i­mately 45 min­utes later. The girl told de­tec­tives she went to her mother’s bed­room and saw a man, wear­ing a grey sweat­shirt, hood and a black mask, stab­bing her mother with a knife.

“(The girl) stated she screamed at the male to stop hurt­ing her mother and the male lunged at her with the knife in his hand,” de­tec­tives wrote in the ar­rest af­fi­davit, adding the girl re­treated to a bath­room and placed the 911 call.

An au­topsy de­ter­mined White died of mul­ti­ple stab wounds, while the un­born male child died due to ma­ter­nal stab wounds, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

When he was in­ter­viewed by de­tec­tives on Feb. 19, Jones stated that while he is mar­ried, he and White had been dat­ing since spring 2017 and she was car­ry­ing his child, who was due in early April 2018, ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit. Jones al­legedly said the two had dis­cussed in­tro­duc­ing their chil­dren to each other on the day of White’s death and that she had been “mad” he was not end­ing his mar­riage.

De­tec­tives al­leged Jones gave in­con­sis­tent de­scrip­tions of the cloth­ing he had been wear­ing Feb. 18 and 19 and about his where­abouts around the time of the killing.

Jones’s wife told au­thor­i­ties she had not seen him be­tween 4:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and 5:30 a.m. Feb. 19 when he re­turned to the apart­ment af­ter what she be­lieved had been a shift at work, ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit.

In the two days lead­ing up to White’s death, a string of text mes­sages re­vealed White and Jones dis­cussing their un­born child — whom they called Travis — and his im­pact on their fam­i­lies. They dis­cussed how to talk to their other chil­dren about their af­fair, with Jones writ­ing he “com­mit­ted a sin” and seem­ing to strug­gle with how he would teach his chil­dren “for­ni­ca­tion is a sin” when that is what he had com­mit­ted.

“I don’t want any of the kids in­clud­ing yours think­ing sex be­fore mar­riage is okay,” Jones al­legedly wrote in one text mes­sage.

White’s mother told po­lice she had been con­cerned about Jones’s at­ti­tude to­ward the pregnancy, ac­cord­ing to the ar­rest af­fi­davit. She re­layed White had told her Jones had once given her a “white foamy” liq­uid and asked her to drink it and later gave her what she be­lieved was a soda can that had been tam­pered with, both of which she re­fused to drink.

Tris­tian Jones

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