On Father’s Day last year, 3-year-old Makayla Jones looked out the window of a Barberton apartment as her father returned from church services that morning.
Marques Jones told a Summit County Juvenile Court jury Tuesday, on the first day of the rape and murder trial of his teenage son, D’Marques “DJ” Jones, that his daughter had a “grimace” on her face.
The jury then heard the grim details of what happened next.
DJ Jones, who was 15 years old at the time, was left in charge of Makayla and his other five siblings after some fun family time the previous evening. Later that day, when Makayla became lethargic and could not keep down any food or liquids, she was admitted to Akron Children’s Hospital.
Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi told the jury in opening statements what doctors found after a series of internal tests and emergency surgery on the little girl. He said Makayla had a 1½-inch tear of the colon.
When her mother, Sarah J. Robinson, was summoned, LoPrinzi revealed what she and Marques Jones heard from the surgeon: “She’s injured, and this is no accident. This is clearly a purposeful act against this child,” LoPrinzi said, relating the news to the jury.
He went on to provide details of forensic evidence Barberton police investigators and the state crime lab said they gathered.
LoPrinzi said fecal matter was found on the side of the mattress the toddler was on, indicating internal perforation, and DJ Jones’ semen, he said, was found on the underwear Makayla was wearing that day.
Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation tests confirmed those findings, LoPrinzi said.
Three days after her emergency surgery, on June 22, 2011, Makayla Jones was pronounced dead.
The cause, according to her Summit County autopsy results, was “multisystem organ failure,” a term for serious infection from traumatic injuries over a period of time.
DJ Jones, now 17, is charged with one count of murder and one count of rape. His trial, the first jury trial of a minor in Summit County Juvenile Court, is expected to continue at least through the end of this week.
After LoPrinzi’s opening statement, defense attorney Scott Rilley attempted to rebut the forensic evidence the jury heard.
“Timing is everything in this case. Pay close attention to it,” Rilley said.
An Akron Children’s Hospital report from the surgeon, Dr. David Andrews, placed the timing of Makayla’s internal injuries “at more than 24 hours prior to surgery,” Rilley stressed.
DJ Jones, he said, “was never alone with Makayla at that time.”
Furthermore, by 8 p.m. on June 18, 2011 — the day before the surgery — Makayla was cold and shivering, drinking large amounts of water and not eating, Rilley said.
All are signs, he said, of a serious infection known as sepsis.
Rilley also told the jury that the forensic scientist who tested Makayla’s underwear and her other clothes “can’t tell you what point in time the seminal fluid was placed there.”
The underwear worn by the child on Father’s Day, in particular, did not come from her dresser drawer. It come from a dirty clothes basket, with the rest of the family’s dirty clothes, “co-mingled,” Rilley stressed.
“The DNA folks will tell you,” he went on, “it is possible for what we call a transfer based on touch — two items of clothing rubbing together.
“One containing genetic material can transfer that genetic material to another piece of clothing,” Rilley said, “and there is no way, scientifically, that [the state] can tell you when that occurred.”
Testimony further established, from Marques Jones himself, that he has been employed for seven years as a technical specialist with Time Warner and has seven children — four with Sarah Robinson and three with a woman identified in court as Yaminah Martin of Herms Court in Barberton.
D’Marques Jones, Martin’s son, was at her apartment with his other siblings on Father’s Day weekend. The ages of the children at the time of Makayla’s death were in a range of 1 to 15, which was DJ’s age.
In late testimony, however. LoPrinzi called the chief investigator on the case, Jerry Antunucci of the Barberton Police Department, who told the jury how the issue about the dirty-clothes basket came to light. The detective said it did not surface until this year during juvenile court hearings in DJ Jones’ case — long after Makayla died.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.