Nearly a year and a half after UCSB graduate student Jarrod Davidson was shot and killed in front of his Goleta apartment in July 2004, the man’s father-in-law and ex-wife have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the murder.
Philip Jones, 51, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with the additional charge of lying in wait Dec. 14, and will face official sentencing by Judge Frank Ochoa on Feb. 10. Senior Deputy District Attorney Darryl Perlin said the terms of the guilty plea dictate that Philip Jones, who admitted to firing the gun that killed Jarrod Davidson, will serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 25 years to life for using a firearm.
On Jan. 6, Jones’ daughter Kelee Davidson – Jarrod Davidson’s ex-wife – pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury and one count of accessory to murder. Public Defender James Egar, who represents both Philip Jones and Kelee Davidson, said the woman committed perjury when she was called as a witness during the spring 2005 grand jury proceedings surrounding Davidson’s murder.
The terms of Kelee Davidson’s plea bargain call for her to serve four years in state prison, Egar said, but she will receive credit for the time she has already served. Prior to the plea deal, Kelee Davidson faced the same charges as her parents, including murder and conspiracy.
“She didn’t plead guilty to having been involved in the murder in any way,” Egar said. “She’ll be out in about a year.”
Kelee Davidson will likely serve the remainder of her time at Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, Calif., Egar said. She is scheduled be sentenced on Feb. 10 along with her father.
Egar said Philip Jones agreed to the guilty plea in order to get the charges against Kelee reduced.
“[Philip Jones agreed to] the resolution because the [district attorney] filed charges against their daughter and this was significant in getting those charges reduced,” Egar said. “He didn’t have a trial.”
Philip Jones, who suffers from inoperable lung cancer, will serve his sentence in the hospital unless his health improves, Egar said. Egar said the man is unlikely to recover, and will probably die before he serves any time in prison.
“I’m very pleased he somehow made it to the first of the year, his prognosis is not good and it’s a day to day thing,” Egar said. “It’s devastating to have a client who has such a horrible terminal disease and it’s hard to see any human being go through that.”
Philip Jones is currently being treated at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital and, as part of his plea bargain, he answered questions about the crime during a videotaped examination by attorneys involved in the case.
Information from the tape could potentially be used as evidence in the trial of Philip Jones’ wife Malinda Jones, 51, who will stand trial for first-degree murder and lying in wait on Feb. 24. Perlin said Judge Ochoa will decide whether the tape can be included in the trial during a pretrial hearing.
“Judge Ochoa has issued an order prohibiting anyone from discussing what was said in the conditional exam, but that information will come out during the course of the pretrial motion,” Perlin said.
If Malinda Jones is convicted, she could face a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Perlin said. He said the prosecution is confident about the progress it is making in the case.
“We’re satisfied with what has happened so far, and we intend to prove at trial the guilt of Malinda Jones,” Perlin said.
Perlin said Jarrod Davidson’s parents Richard and Susan currently have custody of five-year-old Malia Davidson, their son’s daughter with ex-wife Kelee Davidson. The couple has been following the legal proceedings surrounding Jarrod Davidson’s murder very closely, Perlin said.
“I really can’t speak for them, except to say that they’re very aware of what’s going on,” Perlin said.