A life sentence with no chance of parole was been handed down to the man who killed Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers in January 2012.
Circuit Court Judge Doyet “Jack” Early accepted a plea deal from Joshua Tremaine Jones, 28, during a competency hearing for Jones this morning. Jones appeared before the court with long hair and wearing a black sweater.
The official judgement is that Jones is guilty of murder but mentally ill. He was also found guilty of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, unlawful carrying of a pistol, failure to stop for blue lights and petit larceny.
Forensic psychiatrist Donna Schwartz-Watts testified in depth today about Jones' mental history, and diagnosed him as psychotic and suffering from schizophrenia. Schwartz-Watts testified that Jones has a family history of mental illness and was hospitalized in March 2011 after he allegedly was beaten and mugged and suffered hemorrhagic shock.
She also testified that Jones tried to shoot himself in the head in June 2011, leading to some brain damage.
After the plea deal was accepted, Rogers' sister, Jenny Johnson, spoke in court.
“He took a vital part of Aiken,” she said about Jones as she held a photo of her sister. “I wish he had given her a moment. This person right here could have saved his life and hers.”
The murder occurred on Jan. 28, 2012, as Rogers was responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle in Eustis Park. Rogers found Jones in a 2002 blue BMW that he had reportedly stolen from his father and an altercation ensued, police said. Jones then shot her, according to police, and fled the scene.
Officers followed the fleeing BMW and pursued Jones in excess of 100 miles per hour from the park and issued an all-points bulletin search for him and the stolen vehicle. After officers lost sight of the vehicle, a helicopter was brought in to locate it.
Jones was finally taken into custody around 11:30 a.m. that morning at his home on Youman Street in Batesburg.
Jones is also facing charges in Richmond County for his alleged role in the murder of his 21-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Cayce Vice. Her body was found around 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 28 at her apartment in Augusta. She had been shot in the head sometime before Rogers was gunned down in Eustis Park, officials said.
In court today, Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. said he believed Jones shot Rogers with a .40-caliber gun three times – once in the head, once in the neck, and the third shot was blocked by Rogers' police badge. He then took Rogers' gun when he fled.
Thurmond said in court today that Jones believed Rogers was trying to arrest him for killing his girlfriend earlier that morning.