Waldo Jones was sentenced to 60 years in prison Wednesday for his role in the 2011 murder of a Greensburg boy.
Jones, 31, received the maximum sentence allowable under the guilty plea agreement he entered in October. He plans to appeal the decision.
Decatur County Superior Court Judge Matthew Bailey handed down the sentence in front of a packed courtroom that included several law enforcement officials as well as friends of the family and the victim, 12-year-old Devin Lee Parsons.
Jones and the boy’s mother, Tasha Marie Parsons, both received 60-year prison terms for their roles in the June 2011 beating death of Devin Parsons.
Prosecutor James Rosenberry argued for the maximum sentence of 60 years for Jones due to several “aggravating factors” in the case. In support of that evidence, the state called Greensburg Police Detective William Meyerrose to the stand, who again recounted the events of June 3, 2011, the morning Devin Parsons was found dead in his home at 604 East Washington Street.
Det. Meyerrose stated Tasha Parsons and Devin’s two siblings were present in the home when he arrived. Devin was already dead by the time law enforcement personnel reached the scene.
Rosenberry also argued that the presence of the children in the home was an aggravating factor that should be considered in Jones’ sentence. Meyerrose testified that Devin’s sister was napping at the time of the murder, but awoke and saw her brother’s bloodied face. Jones was not at the residence when investigators arrived.
Judge Bailey agreed that the children’s presence should be considered an aggravating factor. He also counted Jones’ long criminal history and repeated probation violations on convictions stemming from alcohol and drug abuse as factors in handing down the maximum sentence.
Jones’ attorney, Mark Jones, asked for a 60-year sentence with 10 years suspended for his client. The attorney argued that the world in 30 years will be far different from the world today and that Waldo Jones will need significant help in adjusting. Putting Jones on probation for 10 years, the attorney said, would allow more supervision of his client in addition to aiding in his adjustment to society following his eventual release. The attorney prefaced his comments by stating, “It’s hard to come before you (Judge Bailey) and ask for any mercy,” adding his belief that many individuals in the courtroom felt Waldo Jones deserved little sympathy for his actions.
The defense also stated that Jones’ history of substance abuse should be considered an illness for which the defendant needed help to overcome. “If not for the drugs, this probably would not have happened,” the attorney said, noting that Jones’ drug problems did not “excuse what happened.”
Judge Bailey disagreed, saying Jones had ample opportunity to rectify his drug issues and elected not to seek help or treatment.
By and large, the manner in which the crime was committed was at the forefront of the sentencing.
The autopsy report listed the cause of death as “multiple blunt force trauma from head-to-toe and partial thickness burns” to the victim’s face, legs and torso. The report concluded that Devin Parsons suffered injuries on approximately 90 percent of his body.
Bailey again called the act “heinous” and stated the nature of the crime was the primary aggravating factor in Jones’ sentencing.
Mark Jones argued that his client played a lesser role in the beating and pointed to an incident that occurred shortly before the death of Devin. Tasha Parsons told police she hit Devin, blackening his eye due to her belief he had taken some of her illegally obtained painkillers.
Both Jones and Parsons previously acknowledged the beating took place in order to reacquire pills they alleged Devin had taken from them. Parsons told detectives the beating occurred over the course of 10 to 12 hours and involved both she and Jones hitting the boy with their fists, kicking him, stomping him and burning him with cigarettes. During the course of the assault, Devin was thrown into an entertainment center and beaten in the head with a cooler and a metal tray. Parsons and Jones held Devin’s head under running water and submerged the boy in a bathtub.
The beating resulted in multiple contusions, abrasions, lacerations, broken bones and internal injuries. Judge Bailey said the injuries suffered by the boy met the Indiana Supreme Court’s definition of torture.
Tasha Parsons initially claimed sole responsibility for the death of her son in her first interview with police, but implicated Jones in a subsequent statement she gave the following day.
For his part Wednesday, Waldo Jones appeared remorseful and read a brief statement to the court at the urging of his attorney.
“I want to express how bad I feel for what happened that day,” Jones said. “I can’t change what happened, and I’m here to pay my debt,” he continued. “I’m sorry, and that’s all I have to say.”
Bailey stated his belief that Jones is indeed remorseful for the crime. Jones’ attorney described his client as “somewhat despondent.”
Judge Bailey also considered Jones’ role in caring for Devin Parsons in the sentencing.
Bailey said both Jones and Parsons violated their positions as caregivers for Devin by their actions the day of the murder, but it was the brutality involved that appeared to weigh most heavily on Judge Bailey’s decision.
“I believe the sentence of 60 years is called for and that is the sentence I am imposing on Mr. Jones,” said the judge.
Following the sentencing, Jones was remanded to the custody of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department, and he is scheduled to begin serving his prison sentence immediately. Bailey said he will soon appoint counsel for Jones’ appeal of the sentence.
As those in attendance filed out of the courtroom, Rosenberry stated he was satisfied with Wednesday’s outcome.
“It’s the right result to the extent there’s ever a ‘right’ result in a murder case,” the prosecutor noted.
For the family of the victim, the resulting sentence, coming more than 18 months after the death of Devin Lee Parsons, provided a measure of solemn closure.
“I think the family will be more at peace with the result,” said Randy Parsons, Devin’s great uncle. “What they got is better than having them walking the streets.”
Family and friends gathered for a memorial service at Devin’s grave in St. Mary’s Cemetery following the sentencing hearing. They were joined by GPD Chief Stacey Chasteen and Greensburg Mayor Gary Herbert.
Kathy Wright, a Greenwood resident who befriended the Parsons family following the tragedy, spoke briefly at the ceremony and read a letter she wrote to Devin.
She said Devin’s death “left a sad and lonely place” in the hearts of many, and she asked that Devin’s spirit watch over his young brother and sister, who are now in the care of family members, as well as the rest of the grieving family. Wright said that Devin’s death helped raise awareness in the fight against child abuse, adding her hopes that others will not suffer the same fate.
Wright closed her letter by telling Devin he is loved and missed and that he and his family will be reunited someday.
Toys, Christmas decorations, poinsettias and stuffed animals adorned Devin’s headstone Wednesday. A picture of the young man and his beloved dog is etched on the front of the stone, while a poem the boy wrote only days prior to his death is inscribed on the back:
“Peace is friendship and being healthy.
Peace is like the fresh yellow sun.
Peace sounds like dogs howling.
Peace tastes like candy.”
Those at the memorial service hoped for peace for Devin Wednesday as they honored him with the short service. Mayor Herbert led a prayer for the boy and pledged that a young life lost far too soon would forever be remembered by the Decatur County community.
“You died trying to do something good for your family,” the mayor prayed. “You’ll never be forgotten.”
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056