LINCOLN CO., Okla. — An Oklahoma father charged after his teenage son was found starving in a barn has retained a new attorney and is expected to plead not guilty on allegations of child neglect.
In 2018, the state of Oklahoma charged then 34-year-old Jimmy Jones, Sr., his wife 46-year-old Amy Adkins Jones, and his step-sons, 20-year-old Jonathan Plank and 24-year-old Tyler Adkins each with one count of child neglect.
At the time, Jones, Sr. was also charged with one count of child abuse by injury, while Amy Jones was also charged with enabling child abuse by injury.
Jones, Sr. was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning; however, the hearing has been postponed until July, months after the child abuse charged was dropped.
His newly retained attorney Michael Amend confirmed to News 4 on Tuesday, Jones, Sr. is expected to plead not guilty at the future hearing. They will also be requesting a jury trial, Amend said.
This type of reduction in charges isn’t unheard of, according to children’s rights advocate Joe Dorman. The former state representative currently serves as CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
“We monitor state policies through state agencies and we work on potential laws that are filed at the Legislature to ensure that they’re kid-friendly,” Dorman said. “This case was horrific and unfortunately in Oklahoma, we hear about too many cases like that.”
During a preliminary hearing earlier this year, a doctor with OU Medical testified there were obvious signs of malnutrition when he treated the then 15-year-old victim who weighed just under 80 pounds.
Court papers state the boy was forced to live in a barn and ate twigs and grass to survive.
Prosecutors also previously alleged Jones, Sr. treated his son’s maggot-filled head wound by super-gluing it shut.
However, legal experts tell us a lot can happen between the time charges are initially filed and the preliminary hearing in terms of evidence and witness statements. Dorman said the role of district attorneys is to not only investigate, but they also must determine which charges are most likely able to get through the court system and which ones cannot.
“A lot of this is even determined on their workload. Just like what we see with many other state employees and public servants. Their cases – they’re overloaded, and they only have so much time to dedicate to these cases,” Dorman said.
News 4 also spoke with long-time defense attorney David McKenzie regarding the case and Jones, Sr.’s expected plea of not guilty.
“Pleading not guilty doesn’t mean that you didn’t do it. It means that maybe the government can’t prove the charges against you, and you’re going to put them to that task of proving beyond a reasonable doubt,” McKenzie explained.
While the charges of child abuse and child neglect are different, McKenzie said they are punished equally as harsh and carry sentences between zero and life.
“They are both 85 percent crimes meaning that if you’re convicted of that, you must serve 85 percent [of the] calendar before they even think about letting you out of prison,” McKenzie said.
Jones, Sr.’s attorney said if the request for a jury trial is granted, it will likely be in October. A status conference is scheduled for September 24.