SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A federal inmate with end-stage renal disease has been spared the death penalty for his fourth murder conviction and the second committed while behind bars.
Jurors in Missouri announced Monday that they couldn't reach a unanimous decision to recommend the death penalty for Ulysses Jones Jr., as is required, The Springfield News-Leader reports. That means the 61-year-old will face another life term when he is formally sentenced, according to his attorney, Shane Cantin.
The same jurors who weighed a possible death sentence had convicted Jones earlier this month of fatally stabbing Timothy Baker with a makeshift knife at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield. The stabbing happened after Baker, who had accused Jones and another inmate of stealing, took medication to make him sleep. The 38-year-old Ohio man was about halfway through his six-year sentence for a cocaine-related conviction at the time he was attacked by Jones. A second inmate sustained multiple injuries while attempting to fend Jones off, prosecutors said.
Jones also has been convicted of two robberies and murders in 1979 and 1980 in Washington, D.C., and another prison murder in Virginia.
Jones was not charged in the Missouri attack until four years after it happened, and defense attorney Thomas Carver accused the government of stalling in hopes that Jones would die. Carver said before the trial that Jones would not survive long enough to be executed even if he was sentenced to death.
Jones, who sat in a wheelchair throughout the trial, has survived on dialysis for the last 30 years, which is longer than 98 percent of people in his condition.
Cantin called the terminal disease a "significant factor" for the jury to consider. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Eggert pointed out that while Jones suffers from a terminal disease, it's impossible to say how much longer he will survive on dialysis. Based on his prior life sentences, Jones will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Eggert asked the jury Monday morning to choose a different form of punishment.
"How is justice established when the defendant receives the exact same sentence he already has?" Eggert asked the jury.
Two of Jones' four murders occurred in prison, and Eggert argued that Jones would be dangerous to others if given another life sentence.
But Cantin argued that Jones is held in isolation and has no contact with other inmates.
"There is, ladies and gentlemen, no future danger," Cantin said.