HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - After one day of witness testimonies, a Forrest County jury found Aaron Jones guilty of first-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of 64-year-old Frank Jenkins.
On Nov. 21, Jenkins was shot inside a home on Prince George Road in Hattiesburg. He was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.
The criminal trial kicked off Wednesday in the courtroom of Forrest County Circuit Court judge Robert Helfrich. To begin, Forrest County senior assistant district attorney DeCarlo Hood played 911 tapes of the deadly night. A witness could be heard saying there were “three men 20-something around in the house" of Jenkins. Jurors also heard Charles Beasley, Jenkins' brother, on the tapes. As the audio played, Jones sat with a stern look on his face which remained throughout the trial.
Beasley, who was injured in the shooting, was the first to take the stand to describe the moments leading up to the incident. According to Beasley, he heard a knock on the door which he said was unusual for guests since they typically ring the doorbell. He went on to say that when he looked outside, he “saw a young man on (his) brother’s truck.”
“I thought maybe someone came to see my brother,” he said.
Moments later, he unlocked the door, which is when he says two men “rushed” inside. Once, they were in the residence, Beasley says he “tussled” with the intruders holding what he thought was a “rifle.”
“… They got the upper hand on me,” he said adding that the men started kicking and stomping him.
Beasley says the men asked him for money telling him “you keep a box of money.”
“They tore my pants off looking for money,” he said mentioning the men threatened to kill him.
Beasley alleges that when Jenkins heard the commotion, he came from out of his room and began shooting at the men causing them to shoot back and strike him.
“He never did look down at me,” Beasley said of Jones. “He just shot my brother.”
In addition to Beasley, Jones’ co-defendants Virgil Luckett and Carlos Sibley took the stand testifying against him. Luckett and Sibley, who were initially charged with capital murder, accepted a plea deal of second-degree murder.
“They did a great job of investigating and going out there to find the suspects, interviewing the suspects and getting three out of the four to confess,” Hood said of crime scene investigators.
After hearing hours of testimony and closing arguments, the case was handed over to the jury for deliberation. The jurors returned a guilty verdict after a fairly short discussion. As Judge Helfrich read Jones’ life in prison sentence, cries reverberated through the courtroom.
A father, brother, friend and man of God is how Jenkins was described by his family.
“He was a man who loved his family and his family loved him,” said Jenkins' sister, Alfreda Tillman-Bester. “That’s why we are all here to support each other and to honor the memory of our brother and loved one.”
While it was hard to relive the night Jenkins' life was taken so violently, his sister said the family is thankful for closure.
“We know that nothing is going to bring our loved one back,” she said. “We are very grateful, because we feel like justice has been done.”