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David Wyatt JONES





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Robberies
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: 1987 / 1995
Date of arrest: February 1, 1995
Date of birth: March 8, 1958
Victims profile: Jasper Highsmith / Lori McRae
Method of murder: ??? / Strangulation with a cord
Location: Duval County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on April 25, 1997

Florida Supreme Court

opinion 90664 opinion SC04-2217

DC#   914949
DOB:   03/08/58

Fourth Judicial Circuit, Duval County Case # 95-1632
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable William Wilkes
Attorney, Trial: Alan Chipperfield – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Direct Appeal: W.C. McLain – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals:  Harry Brody – Registry

Date of Offense: 01/31/95

Date of Sentence: 04/25/97

Circumstances of Offense:

Lori McRae left the post office where she worked at 12:35 a.m. on 01/31/95 and drove away in her red and gray Chevrolet Blazer.  She called her husband to tell him that she was stopping at the Winn-Dixie on the way home.  When she did not arrive at 1:45 a.m., her husband called the police.   

A Walgreen’s employee, Clayton Chou, who worked at the store adjacent to the Winn-Dixie reported seeing Lori McRae approached by and engaged in a conversation by a man in the store.  Chou picked Jones out of a photographic lineup.  David Jones was the last person seen with Lori McRae. 

On 01/31/95, a man, later identified as Jones, drove a red Blazer to an automobile detailing business and inquired about having the inside of the vehicle cleaned.  The owners of the business noticed that the man had several tattoos and had scratches on his face. 

Later, one of the owners, Dennis Marsh, saw a picture of a red Blazer on a news report that linked the Blazer to the disappearance of McRae.  Marsh telephoned police and later picked Jones out of a photographic lineup. 

ATM surveillance records showed a man, later identified as Jones, withdrawing money from McRae’s account.  Over a 35 hour period, 105 transactions were attempted, with 11 successful in obtaining a total of $600.   

Police staked out ATMs and arrested Jones, who was driving a red Blazer whose tag number matched McRae’s Blazer.  Police found trace amounts of blood in the vehicle.

On 02/21/95, after his arrest, Jones told correctional officers that he needed to talk to police, saying “I need to confess and I need to tell where the body is.”  Jones confessed to the murder to correctional officers and later to Detective Parker of the Jacksonville Police Department. 

Jones led police to the body, which was dumped in Baker County.  McRae’s body was severely decomposed, and the time of death was determined to be three weeks earlier.  The cause of death was ligature strangulation with a cord.  McRae’s body was bound around the legs, had bruising to the extremities, and defensive wounds.

Additional Information:

Jones was arrested and pled guilty to the Second-Degree Murder of Jasper Highsmith.  The murder occurred after Jones escaped from jail, where he was being held on a Burglary charge.  On 03/19/87, Jones was sentenced to a prison term of 20 years. 

Trial Summary:

02/13/97          Indicted as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder

Count II:          Robbery

Count III:         Kidnapping

03/21/97          Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment

04/10/97          Jury recommended death by a vote of 9-3

04/25/97          Sentenced as follows:

Count I:           First-Degree Murder – Death

Count II:          Robbery – 15 years

Count III:         Kidnapping – Life Imprisonment

Case Information:

Jones filed a Direct Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 05/30/97, citing the following errors:  failing to suppress the statements to Detective Parker and correctional officers; improper comments by a State witness as to Jones’ right to remain silent; introducing irrelevant evidence of racial prejudice; failing to establish sufficient evidence of premeditation; excluding testimony of an expert on the effects of crack cocaine addiction; allowing details of the Highsmith murder into the penalty phase; refusing to allow Jones’ prior counsel to testify regarding the contents of a competency evaluation performed during the 1986 murder proceeding; failing to establish sufficient evidence to support the aggravating factor of murder to avoid arrest; denying a motion for counsel to withdraw; failing to find error in the victim impact evidence; failing to find error in the instructions on the heinous, atrocious, or cruel and felony-murder aggravating factors; and the constitutionality if the death penalty. 

On 11/12/99, the FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences. 

Jones filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on 04/10/00 that was denied on 06/12/00. 

Jones filed a 3.850 Motion with the Circuit Court on 06/12/01 and amended the motion on 04/28/03.  The motion was denied on 10/27/04.

Jones filed a 3.850 Motion Appeal with the Florida Supreme Court on 11/18/04 that is pending. 

Jones filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Florida Supreme Court on 09/06/05 that is pending.


David Wyatt Jones



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