Mar. 3—PAINESVILLE — A Lake County decide sentenced Demarco Jones to 25 years to life in jail for fatally stabbing Timothy Meola, a well-liked caterer in Ashtabula.
Jones was arrested on July 28, 2022, for murdering Meola, 65, who was discovered useless in his Painesville residence on Sept. 7, 2019. Jones, now 20, pleaded responsible Jan. 10 to aggravated murder.
Meola’s household and Jones’ relations crammed the again of the courtroom, in addition to officers from the Painesville Police Division, who arrested Jones after almost three years of interviews and investigation.
Deputies accompanied Jones, a tall, skinny younger man with glasses, sporting a darkish blue jail uniform and handcuffs, into the courtroom.
Earlier than Widespread Pleas Courtroom Decide Patrick Condon rendered his sentence, Deputy Chief Assistant Public Defender Lauren Tuttle referred to as social employee and mitigation specialist Kelly O’Connor to the witness stand.
O’Connor mentioned she hoped to present the courtroom with “perception to who Jones is,” after inspecting his college, medical, psychological well being and courtroom information. She additionally met together with his household and with Jones 4 occasions whereas he was incarcerated in the Lake County jail.
“His early childhood information present his mom examined constructive for cocaine late in the being pregnant,” she mentioned. “Over time, there have been 30 calls made to Kids Providers about him for neglect and bodily abuse.”
O’Connor went on to describe sexual abuse Jones suffered as a baby by the hands of his mom’s former boyfriend. He additionally was sexually victimized by two different older males.
After what was described as a “choking incident,” Jones’ grandmother tried to get custody of him. Thereafter, he lived along with her weekdays and spent weekends together with his mother.”
Jones’ college information described him as “aggressive” — one thing that escalated as he obtained older, she mentioned.
Testing confirmed an IQ of 66, she mentioned, noting beneath 70 is standards for mental incapacity. He had many psychological well being points, together with a time he tried to kill himself and hung out in a psychological well being facility, in accordance to O’Connor.
As well as to the abuse, Jones is transgender — he is biologically a boy, however seems like a woman, which could be complicated to kids, O’Connor mentioned.
O’Connor additionally testified that Meola’s murder was the results of a “trauma response,” which drew from Jones’ abusive experiences all through his younger life.
“In conclusion, this can be a horrible scenario for everyone,” she mentioned. “He operates like a 12-year-old, however I imagine he has potential.”
Tuttle then requested the decide for the minimal sentence of life in jail with the opportunity of parole after 20 years.
“We perceive the seriousness of his conduct,” she mentioned. “That is why he entered a responsible plea. He is remorseful.”
Jones nodded his head as his lawyer addressed the decide. He then turned his chair round to face the Meola household and apologized for what he had completed.
“I pray for all of you, wishing you peace. That is the more serious mistake of my life. I hate what I’ve completed. I do know it is onerous, however please forgive me,” he mentioned.
The crowded courtroom was silent as Jones turned his chair again round and Assistant Prosecuting Lawyer Carolyn Mulligan approached the rostrum.
“Tim Meola was 65 years outdated when he died. He was a father, grandfather, brother and uncle,” she mentioned earlier than a sufferer’s impression assertion from Meola’s daughter, Miranda, was learn aloud.
“My father was brutally murdered; I bear in mind it prefer it was yesterday. Why did not you allow? Why did you might have to murder him?” Miranda Meola mentioned in the assertion. “I imagine in our justice system. I waited two-and-a-half years for this. I hope you spend day-after-day in jail regretting what you might have completed.”
As Miranda Meola’s assertion was learn, Jones seemed down and shook his head.
Mulligan mentioned there was a couple of sufferer in this crime.
“There is a neighborhood grieving in Ashtabula; he was liked,” she mentioned. “This murder concerned prior calculation and design.”
She then submitted 4 photographs of Meola’s physique after the crime to the decide so he may see the brutality of it.
Throughout an Aug. 10, 2022 listening to in Lake County Juvenile Courtroom particulars of the murder revealed Meola and Jones met on a web based web site and had met up one time prior to the murder.
On Sept. 6, 2019, Meola picked up Jones at his house in Euclid. The 2 then hung out in an upstairs bed room at Meola’s house, the place there was a disagreement, Mulligan mentioned.
Meola requested Jones to retrieve one thing from one other a part of the home and produce it upstairs.
“As a substitute, Demarco Jones picked up a knife, hid it and went to one other stage of the house to kill him,” she mentioned. “He admitted Mr. Meola was by no means aggressive or threatened him. There was a disagreement and Demarco Jones determined Mr. Meola ought to die. It was a horrible dying.”
After stabbing Meola and hitting him in the top with a heavy object, Jones tried to flush the knife down the bathroom, Mulligan mentioned. He then destroyed audio system mounted round the home that he believed to be cameras so he would not get caught, she mentioned.
Jones then stole Meola’s automotive and parked it at a Euclid residence complicated. He then left city for two-and-a-half years, she mentioned.
“One factor the photographs do not present are defensive wounds,” Mulligan mentioned. “Mr. Meola fought for his life. He suffered. The state is asking for the utmost sentence. Something lower than the utmost would demean it.”
When she was completed, a hush fell over the courtroom.
Decide Condon mentioned he reviewed all of the proof and the pre-sentence investigation.
“Solely two individuals know what occurred inside that home and considered one of them is useless,” he mentioned, wanting instantly at Jones. “It was a vicious murder, Mr. Meola was stabbed 30 occasions … when you went on together with your life for almost three years.”
Condon mentioned if it wasn’t for the diligent work of the Painesville Police Division, the murder could have by no means been solved. He then sentenced Jones to spend the subsequent 25 years to life in the Lorain Correctional Establishment in Grafton.
Jones confirmed no emotion as deputies led him out of the courtroom.
As well as to aggravated murder, Jones was initially charged with two counts of aggravated theft, two counts of theft, aggravated housebreaking, housebreaking, grand theft of a motorcar and tampering with proof, in accordance to courtroom paperwork. However in the plea take care of prosecutors, these costs had been dismissed.
The murder came about whereas Jones was 17 and the case was initially heard in the Lake County Juvenile Courtroom. Prosecutors efficiently argued to have him tried as an grownup.