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Shawnte Jones
Arizona # 261943
Murder of daughter

Death of Baby Feb 15, 2004
Tried November 2010
6 and a 1/2 year hiatus between death and trial.
Sentence: 35 Years to Life.
(Raised to 52 years in 2014)

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Maricopa County Superior Court judge sentenced a Mesa woman Friday to life in prison with the possibility of parole for killing her 10-month-old daughter.
by Brealyn Nenes - Apr. 1, 2011 05:57 PM
The Arizona Republic

Read more:

Shawnte Jones, 26, was convicted of felony count of first-degree murder and one felony count of child abuse for slamming the infant into the floor of her apartment.

According to court documents, police responded to a Mesa apartment in
February 2004 after receiving a report that the infant, Labraiya Huff, was not breathing.

The baby was taken to Banner Desert Medical Center where she was found to have suffered blunt force trauma to her head, court documents said.

She died two days later when she was taken off life support, court records said.

Jones did not having any previous criminal history or offenses, but deputy county attorney Frankie Grimsman asked the court to remember that an infant was killed.

"We are dealing with the loss of a life here," Grimsman said. "We just ask that the court doesn't forget that."

The baby was left in her bed for 30 minutes before her mother called police, court documents said. Jones told police she found her daughter on the floor not breathing when she came to check on her after a nap.

Jones was arrested after an autopsy revealed the baby's death was a homicide, court documents said.

After the baby was taken to the hospital, Jones did not immediately tell police or hospital staff about injuring her child, court records said.

During an interview with police, Jones admitted she had become frustrated with the baby's cries and 'lost control' when she slammed the baby's head into the ground two times, court records said.

Jones's defense attorney, G. David Delozier Jr. said throughout his career, many of his clients have not attended their sentencings.

"But this young lady, knowing she is facing these charges and the possibility of being locked away from her family for many years, has shown up," Delozier said.

Laura Flenons, Jones' grandmother, said her granddaughter has always been a loving, kind and compassionate person.

"I personally have a great hurt on my heart," Flenons said. "I feel in my heart that there were some things left unsaid, some things left undone. I believe in her still."

Just before Joseph C. Welty read her sentence Friday afternoon, Jones apologized to her family and children for the pain she has caused.

"My world has ended," Jones said. "My babies are my world and I would never hurt them."

Reporters Alexa Chrisbacher and Alexandra Irving contributed to this report.

    Read more:

    Jones 1st Degree Murder Trial is under way
    November 1, 2010

    The first court session of a woman charged with first degree murder and child abuse with the death of her baby began Monday at the Maricopa Superior Court.

    Shawnte Jones is charged with first degree murder and two counts of child abuse when her baby girl was discovered dead in her Mesa apartment, Tradewinds, on Broadway and Dobson six years ago on February 2004. The first court session of a six week trial began on Monday morning.

    Lead Detective Donald Vogel, retired from the Mesa Police Department, listed the injuries that the doctors took note of when the baby was taken to the hospital. The injuries included a laceration over the left eye, a red mark above the right eye, widening of the rib cage, a red mark on the right knee, and a green mark on the right side of the baby’s back. Head trauma was also included in the list of injuries.

    Vogel was alerted to the situation on a Sunday afternoon while at home. He said that Jones was four months pregnant at the time. Vogel reported that Shawnte was with baby “24/7” for the two weeks prior to its death.

    At the time of investigating the apartment nothing was determined. The detectives went in not looking for anything specifically such as a murder weapon.
    Sergeant Casillas of the Mesa Police Department was brought to testify as a witness. Casillas investigated the apartment of Jones the day the baby was discovered. Casillas said that the door to the apartment was open.

    The prosecutors showed Casillas pictures that were taken of the apartment where the baby was found. Casillas noted red stains on the carpet leading to the baby’s room but Casillas later stated that the red stains were not blood but rather a powdery substance perhaps from make-up.

    Casillas also noted that, along with no blood, no drugs or weapons were found. The freezer and fridge was filled with food. Casillas also said that while the kitchen and living room were clean, the master and childrens’ bedroom were cluttered with clothes, leftover food and wrappers. He said when he entered the apartment that area smelled unclean with soiled diapers and food.
    Found on the floor of the apartment was a book titled “For a Healthy Baby” which Casillas said it “depicts a child being cared for.”

    From the scene, partially filled bottles of Enfamil, a mop, and pieces of carpet were seized as evidence.
    The case is estimated to last six weeks which would be enough time to gather witnesses out of state. According to Defense Attorney G. David DeLozier, there will be 25 witnesses who are mostly family and a few experts.

    Vogel has taught seminars and trained other police officers. His interviewing of witnesses and suspects has been reviewed by the State Supreme Court. He has his own interview style in which he creates a comfortable atmosphere that compels those interviewed to tell the truth. Vogel reflects the principle of knowing both what and why a crime occurred.

    As of November, the trial is still underway.

    A Deceased Child, A False Confession And A Wrongful Conviction
    Shawnte Jones

    Greetings from Arizona. Thank you for taking interest in my case. How does an innocent mother get convicted for the crime of murder? To convict the innocent is not a difficult task for overzealous prosecutors.

    On the morning of February 15, 2004, my baby girl Labraiya went into cardiac arrest. Approximately one hour after feeding, I put her to bed, and soon after, found her on the ground groping for air. I did CPR, called my mom, and then dialed 911. The EMTs and police officers transported her to the hospital. I was not allowed to accompany her in the ambulance. Instead, I was subjected to interrogation. At the hospital, Labraiya was photographed and said to have about six or seven marks on her body. These marks mysteriously disappeared two days later.

    A CT scan was performed, and everything appeared normal- except for a possible skull fracture. A second CT scan was performed 24 hours later. It showed a small amount of blood, and the initial diagnosis of skull fracture was confirmed. This heightened the suspicion of abuse. I was questioned at the police department that day, and later at the hospital--cornered by detectives.

    My baby was kept alive for two days despite no evidence of brain function. Upon admission, she soon developed lobar pneumonia after being placed on a ventilator. According to my expert, this is not a complication or trauma, but a rare form of pneumonia. How could she possibly develop such a severe pneumonia in just two hours?

    She was taken off the ventilator on February 17, 2004. This was my decision and it was extremely hard. The entire case was sent to the M.E. Though the hospital claimed to have photographed marks on her body, the M.E. never found any. Nor did he find any bruising on the surface of her skin.

    The M.E., following usual procedure, shaved her head. He found three faint red marks but only one turned out to be a bruise. He retracted the scalp, and found seven contusions. His theory was that she had seven new bruises exactly on top of seven old ones. Same location, same size, but months apart. The first seven were from minor falls, the newer seven were inflicted.

    He testified that seven, exactly on top of seven, was unusual in his work. This lead to the conclusion of "blunt force trauma." And my "confession" did not help matters. I stated that I twice slammed the back of her head -
    which was not true. Let me swear honestly and openly that I was terrified by the detective. And so I repeated what he wanted to hear. I just wanted him out of my face. I was four months pregnant, and sick about my other two kids, especially Labraiya.

    Experts on my behalf believed that the state's medical examiner handled the autopsy inappropriately. He did not preserve the brain before taking samples, nor did he remove sufficient areas for proper examination.

    And so I was arrested on February 19, 2004. I was incarcerated for two years in the county jail, without being prosecuted. I was bailed out on a $20,000 bond. For the next 4 1/2 years, I lived on the outside without incident. The state ignored my case. I even had another baby in October, 2008.

    In all my life, I have never been violent. And I had no reason at all to harm my baby. She had lobar pneumonia, and other developmental complications. The medical examiner failed to explain the cause of injuries..

    She had no broken bones; no evidence of being strongly gripped; no damage to the neck; no bruising; and no skull fractures.

    Before this incident, I had never been in any kind of trouble. I had never been inside a police department, or had and violent or CPS( Child Protective Services) incidents.

    I'm doing the best that I can in here. I must say that I never thought I would end up a place like this. It is so hard to accept. Prison is a whole different, cruel world.

    Sitting down to write this gets me really upset. So I am going to end now.

    Thank you for reading.


    Shawnte Jones


    Court upholds consecutive terms in girl's death


      by Associated Press

      Posted on September 3, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      Updated Wednesday, Sep 3 at 6:55 PM


        See all 2 photos »

        PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that a Mesa woman must serve back-to-back sentences for killing her 10-month-old daughter.

        Shawnte Shuree Jones was sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of release after 25 years for first-degree murder in Labraiya Huff's 2004 blunt-force-trauma death and to 17 years in prison for child abuse

        A trial judge ordered Jones' prison terms to run consecutively under a sentencing law for dangerous crimes against children, but an appeals court ruled they must run concurrently. That ruling cited a law that says sentences must run concurrently when convictions stem from a single act.

        The Supreme Court's ruling Wednesday says Jones' convictions stem from the same conduct but are different offenses. It also the law on dangerous crimes against children overrides the other law. © 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

        High court upholds consecutive sentences in murder of daughter

        By EMILIE EATON, Cronkite News

        PHOENIX – The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld consecutive sentences for a Mesa woman convicted of killing her 10-month-old daughter.

        Shawnte Shuree Jones is serving 35 years to life in prison for the 2004 murder of her daughter, Labraiya Huff. She was sentenced to a consecutive 17-year sentence for child abuse but appealed, arguing the additional sentence should be served concurrently.

        The case dealt with conflicting Arizona statutes – one that bans consecutive sentences in certain cases and another that mandates consecutive sentences for crimes against children.

        The first says that a crime that is punishable by different laws can be punished by both, but the sentencing must be concurrent.

        The second requires that sentences in the case of dangerous crimes against children be served consecutively.

        The high court’s ruling said that when there are conflicting laws the more recent, specific statutes should govern over older, more general statutes. Instead of applying this principle, the Court of Appeals applied a 1993  ruling and said all sentences could be served concurrently.

        The state Supreme Court found that 1993 ruling was incorrectly decided and said the more recent statute, dealing with consecutive sentences, should rule.

        “We thought the Court of Appeals was improperly interpreting state statutes,” said Alice Jones, who argued the case on behalf of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. ”It was an important issue because the Arizona Supreme Court is the final authority on statutory interpretation. We were very happy with the results because they adopted our position.”

        Jones’ lawyer didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

        In February 2004, Jones called 911 and said her daughter had fallen and was not breathing. The child was rushed to the hospital and put on life support and a ventilator but showed no brain activity. She died several days later.

        The medical examiner found several bruises on the child’s head and concluded that the death was a homicide, not an accidental fall. Jones later confessed, admitting she slammed her daughter’s head on the floor several times.

        During the trial, Jones waived her right to a jury trial. The court convicted her on child abuse and first-degree murder.  In addition to the 35-years-to-life sentence and the consecutive 17-year sentence, she also was sentenced to three and a half years, to be served concurrently with murder sentence, for failing to provide nourishment and-or medical attention to her daughter.


        Arizona’s Revised Statutes:

        The case dealt with two conflicting Arizona statutes:

        A.R.S. 13-116, dealing with double punishment: “An act or omission which is made punishable in different ways by different sections of the laws may be punished under both, but in no event may sentences be other than concurrent. An acquittal or conviction and sentence under either one bars a prosecution for the same act or omission under any other, to the extent the Constitution of the United States or of this state require.”

        A.R.S. 13-705, dealing with dangerous crimes against children, sentences, and definitions: “The sentence imposed on a person for any other dangerous crime against children in the first or second degree shall be consecutive to any other sentence imposed on the person at any time, including child molestation and sexual abuse of the same victim.”