Triple-Murder Suspect Waives Right to a Jury Trial; Bench Trial to Start Today

In December of 2018, Javon Blackwell (43) and his two sons, Javon Blackwell Jr. (12) and Jayzon Blackwell (11), were brutally murdered in their home on South Gallatin Street.

Police determined that the incident was a botched robbery. One of the suspects arrested for the family’s murder was Lemere Jones, who was 29 years-old at the time of his arrest.

On Monday, the Grant County Superior Court 1, overseen by Judge Jeffrey D. Todd, was to begin jury selection for the trial against Jones. Potential jurors were present, but before either side’s attorneys were able to ask questions of them, Jones decided that he wanted to waive his right to a jury trial. While this is an unusual move for a defendant, Judge Todd approved the request, and Jones will now sit for a bench trial starting today, Tuesday, March 10th.

Our own Richarh Tyson spoke with Attorney Jerry Drook, who is representing Jones in this trial.

Drook explained to Mr. Tyson that the facts of the case are not up for dispute, and it’s not his job to argue those facts. “It’s not a debate as to what happened. It’s about Lemere having his fair day in court.”


When asked about Jones’ decision to not have a jury trial, Drook said “it’s unusual to have a murder trial without a jury,” but he also added the decision was made by Jones, who says he does not want to put the citizens of Marion through a difficult trial.

Mr. Tyson asked if refusing a jury trial was Jones’ way of taking responsibility for his role in the triple-murder. Drook wouldn’t give a direct answer, but he did seem to insinuate that Jones is accepting the role he played. When asked why Jones didn’t just take a plea deal in the case, Drook responded “Three murders. Two children are dead. How do you bargain with that?” He later added, in terms of a possible plea deal, “how can you put numbers on the value of two children’s lives?”

Richarh Tyson is currently present in the courtroom as the trial gets underway. We will have updates directly from the courtroom as we get them.

Update, 3/10/20 at 10:10 AM:

Updates provided by Richarh Tyson, as he witnesses today’s hearing.

Jeff Bryant testifies that he does maintenance work in the house where the triple-murder occurred. He has a key to the residence, and he let himself in on the day of the murders.

Bryant says he saw the three victims in the house and assumed that they were all sleeping. He did some repairs in the bathroom, and then he left.

Bryant continues by saying he returned to the residence later that day, after noon, and saw that the three victims still appeared to be sleeping. He continued with his work.

It was then that Javon’s mother came to the house. Bryant said the mother tried to wake the boys, but they wouldn’t wake up. Bryant went to help her, but it was then that they realized they were dead.

Throughout Bryant’s testimony, Lemere Jones say with his head down.

Rebecca Jones, Javon’s mother, takes the stand.

In a very soft whisper, Jones tells of how she found the boys in the house and just assumed they were sleeping. She talks about how she tried to wake them up, but they wouldn’t wake.

Jones says that Bryant came into the room and turned on the light. She says she saw something on the back of Jayzon’s head.

Jones says that’s when she called 911 for help.

Diana Scott Wilson, mother of the two young boys, takes the stand.

Wilson establishes the fact that she was married to Javon and was the mother of the two boys.

John Kearney Jr. takes the stand. He lives on South Gallatin, across the street from where the murders occurred.

Kearney says he flagged down police to inform them that he had just recently installed a security system at his house. He says he allowed the police to look at the security footage, captured during the time of the murders.

Capt. Cris Butche takes the stand.

Captain Butche testifies that he was the coroner at the time of the murder. He is now a deputy coroner.

Update, 3/10/20 at 11:35 AM:

Updates provided by Richarh Tyson, as he witnesses today’s hearing.

A crime scene investigator from the Indiana State Police took the stand and started showing 3D images of the crime scene.

Diana Scott Wilson, mother of the two young boys, left the room before the images were displayed.

Detective Jay Mitchner of the Criminal Investigations Division, a 16-year veteran, testified and explained the photos being shown in the courtroom.

Some of the photos showed close-ups of 9mm shell casings found in the home. Other photos showed close-up photos of the bullet wounds, which proved that the victims were shot at point-blank range.

Mitchner further explains that after Lemere Jones was in custody, he identified Demetrius Jackson (25) as being involved in the murders, as well. Jackson was located in South Bend. The car Jackson was in was searched, and a cell phone belonging to Jackson was discovered.

Detective Ben Caudill, Detective Sargent of the Criminal Investigations Devision, takes the stand. Caudill testifies that a white Chevy Impala owned by Jasmine Drake (who was dating Lemere Jones) was seen on surveillance video. The Impala came to a stop outside of the victim’s house, at which point someone can be seen on the video approaching the residence.

Caudill continues by saying that Lemere Jones seemed to be rational while answering detectives’ questions.

Caudill also says that Jones told detectives that he wanted to commit an armed robbery with Demetrius Jackson, but the robbery quickly turned into a triple-murder, when, according to Jones, Jackson shot Javon and his two kids.

Caudill testifies that Jones identified two females also connected to the case: Brittany and Jasmine Drake. Jones apparently told detectives that the two women assisted in planning the robbery.

After being apprehended, Caudill says that Jones took both himself and Deputy Chief Stephen Dorsey around town to show them where they had dumped stuff. Jones also took them to Jasmine Drake’s house, but nothing had been located there.

John Kauffman from the prosecutor’s office takes the stand.

Kauffman says that on January 11, 2019, they were trying to find the white Chevy Impala that had been seen on the surveillance video. They knew that the vehicle was registered to Jasmine Drake, so they drove by her house on South Adams Street multiple times.

At one point, Kauffman says they saw the Impala at McClure’s gas station, and he radioed Stefanatos, to ask whether or not he should make contact with the car.

Kauffman says that Lemere Jones was driving by himself. Kauffman attempted to stop the car, but Jones took off from McClure’s and accelerated after turning onto 29th street. The vehicle stopped at Drake’s residence on Adams Street and Jones tried getting into the house.

Jones was arrested and the white Impala was then towed. They obtained a search warrant for the vehicle.

Jones was charged then with resisting arrest, operating without a license, and other charges unrelated to the murders.

Update, 3/10/20 at 3:06 PM:

Updates provided by Richarh Tyson, as he witnesses today’s hearing.

Captain Mark Stefanatos has taken the stand. Stefanatos remained calm during the preliminary questions, but as soon as he started describing seeing the two children in Blackwell’s home, he began crying.

Diana Scott Wilson, the mother of the two boys, also broke down crying, while her husband tried to comfort her.

The judge called for a ten minute recess, to help everyone pull themselves together.

Stefanatos testified that both of the boys were shot in the head from a very close range. He also testified that investigators could find no signs of forced entry into the home.

Stefanatos went on to describe the procedures involved in the investigations.

During this time, Lemere Jones held his head down and bounced nervously. Jones also began to cry during Stefanatos’ testimony and wiped his tears away with his jail uniform.

In the middle of the testimony, Jones blurted out “I need to get out of here, dude.” Judge Todd instructed Jones to remain silent.

Stefanatos located a phone on Jones during questioning and got Jones’ permission to search it. Stefanatos found messages on the phone between Jones and Demetrius Jackson sent through Facebook Messenger. There were messages that had been sent on December 30, 2018, which was the nigh of the murder, wherein one of them asked “are you ready?” and the other responded, “hell yeah, I’m ready.”

Stefanatos testified that Lemere Jones reached out to talk to him. January 20, 2019 was the day Jones confessed. Jones allegedly told Stefanatos that “those shorties weren’t supposed to be there,” referring to the two children.

On January 21, 2019, Jones requested to speak at midnight. He first asked for McDonald’s, and then he was transported to the police department for the interview.

During this interview, Stefanatos says Jones admitted to a conspiracy between Brittany Drake and Demetrius Jackson to rob Javon Blackwell. The two met at Brittany’s house, and then Lemere Jones dropped Brittany Drake and Demetrius Jackson off in the back of Javon Blackwell’s home. Jones then went in the front door of the home and asked for some water. Jones then let Brittany and Jackson into the house through the kitchen.

That’s when the shots rang out.

Following the shooting, Jones told Stefanatos that they all went back to Brittany’s house to change clothes. They took the clothes that had been worn in Blackwell’s house and burned them in a burn barrel.

Video of Lemere Jones’ confession was shown in the court room. The following is what Jones said in the video:

I gotta get all this off my chest.
The kids wasn’t supposed to be in there, man.
Brittany told us Javon just got a load in.
Demetrius is probably carrying the 9mm right now.
Brittany was supposed to wait in the alley.
I knocked on the door. He opened the door. I asked for some water. Javon let me go to the kitchen. I let Demetrius and Brittany in. He shot ’em.
I took a rifle out of there. And a .40.
I was supposed to have the gun. If I was holding the gun this, wouldn’t have happened.
I cut my phone off so the towers wouldn’t locate where I was at.

Diana Scott Wilson left the court room.

A family member of Javon then stood up in the courtroom, took his sweater off, and walked towards the defendant. He told Jones “We can get it on right here. If these people wasn’t in between us. I’ll make you kill me in this bitch. You a pussy.”

Following this incident, the court called for a ten minutes recess. Lemere Jones now has more security than he’d had earlier in the day.

Update, 3/10/20 at 4:00 PM:

Updates provided by Richarh Tyson, as he witnesses today’s hearing.

Following the break, Lemere Jones asked to be taken back to the jail. Judge Todd refused his request and said the hearing would continue.

The court continued to show Jones’ confession tape, in which he said the following:

Man those kids. If it weren’t for those kids, I’d take the blame. It’s not what God told me this morning.
[Referring to Brittany Drake] She has so much of a hold on me. I’d do anything to show her how much I love her.

Amber Clay, a former jail guard, testified that Lemere Jones gave her a letter he had written by hand and asked her to please make a copy of it for him. Instead of making a copy, Clay says she took the letter to the corporal.

The letter was addressed to Diana Scott Wilson, the mother of the two young boys. It was an apology for his role in their deaths, and it now serves as a hand-written and signed confession of the crime.

Update, 3/10/20 at 6:20 PM:

Updates provided by Richarh Tyson, as he witnesses today’s hearing.

After a long day in court, Judge Todd decides that Lemere Jones is guilty on all charges, as laid out below.

Once the verdict was announced, Captain Mark Stefanatos stated that “nobody wins, but justice was served today for those little boys.”

We also received a statement from the mother of the two young boys, Diana Scott Wilson:

All ima say is this dude has a lot of nerve to make us all re live this.. To make us sit there and watch him try to fight for his life while he took 4… This was by far the hardest test of strength, and self control, and we all made it through… Verdict was quick and just.. 1 down 2 to go..

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