01 Jan 1970 |

Mr who


Robert Jones

America imprisons a higher proportion of its citizens than anywhere else in the world, and Louisiana more than anywhere else in America. It is estimated that 14 out of every 1,000 adults in the state are in prison. This is the story of one of them, Robert Jones, who was jailed in the 1990s for killing a young British tourist in New Orleans.
It was a crime another man had already been convicted of, but he was prosecuted anyway. The judge who sentenced the young father to life in prison now says his skin colour sealed his fate. But even today, more than 23 years after he was arrested, Robert Jones is still not a free man.

A US man whose conviction was overturned after serving more than 23 years in jail for crimes including the killing of a UK tourist has been freed. “It’s a great day,” Robert Jones, 42, said as he left Orleans Parish Prison in Louisiana on Friday. Mr Jones was sentenced to life for rape, robbery and the manslaughter of Julie Stott in 1992. He was jailed even though another man, Lester Jones, had already been convicted of the murder.

jones2There had also been compelling evidence that linked him to all of the crimes Robert Jones was accused of having committed. State prosecutors had withheld crucial evidence in Robert Jones’s trial. In June, a Louisiana court ruled that he did not get a fair trial, but he remained in prison. Last month, the murder detective and the judge from Mr Jones’s original trial told BBC News they believed his conviction had been a miscarriage of justice.

This week a judge said he could leave prison on bail pending a retrial, citing “disturbing testimony from a lead detective”. Speaking outside the prison, Mr Jones’s mother described his release as a “blessed day”. His daughter Bree, who was born after he was jailed, said: “I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.”