AKRON -- John Wilbert Jones, 18, of Akron, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison Thursday morning for causing death of his six-month-old daughter, Jada Ruiz Jones.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove sentenced him after he was found guilty of murder and child endangering Tuesday in the death of Jada.
Jones said, "I understand the way everybody feels, but I didn't do nothing wrong and that's the honest-to-God truth, whether you believe me or not, I don't really care. 'But I shouldn't be the one standing here right now, and that's the truth.''
Jada's grandmother Jonetta Ruiz, in a white shirt with purple and pink stripes, spoke for the family. She had a statement written but broke down after a few words -- "It's hard for me to stand up in court and say what I have to say. I'm going to get it off my chest anyway..."
As Jonetta sobbed into the shoulder of Maureen Vos, a victim advocate for the Summit County Prosecutor's office, Vos read the rest of the statement..."I pray to God to have mercy on her soul for what you've done to us. You took away part of us that can never be replaced.. I watched you in court today...you never apologized..how could you have ever said that you loved them? You promised me that you would protect them."
After the sentencing, Jonetta spoke to Channel 3, saying "It was too much to handle...I was waiting for an apology..we are trying to build, we are not trying to take away."
Regarding the time Jada spent on life-support in Akron Children's Hospital, Jonetta said, "...it was a hurting feeling, to see her every day like that...I know we made the right decision...I will forgive him in my heart but I will never forget."
The jury heard that, on the morning of March 19, 2010, John Jones violently shook Jada, causing irreversible brain trauma. Jada was placed on life support for four months.
Jones fought Jada being removed from life support until Summit County Probate Judge Bill Spicer made the decision to terminate the support, based upon Jada's severe brain injuries. Jada died July 16, 2010.
Deja Ruiz, 18 at the time, and John Jones, 17 at the time, were the parents of three children, a two-year old boy and six-month old twin girls, Jazmine and Jada. Deja Ruiz and Jones were the only caretakers of the children.
At trial, Jones's defense was to claim that Jada's mother, his former girlfriend Deja, had caused the injuries that killed Jada. On the morning of March 19, Deja left to go to school and John was watching the children.
Expert testimony at trial revealed that Jada had died of Shaken Baby Syndrome that occurred after her mother, Deja, left for school.
Both parents reported that John had given Jada a bottle after Deja left. Doctor's testified that the baby would not have had the ability to drink a bottle, much less to swallow, with that level of brain injury unless the shaking had occurred after her bottle feeding; thereby excluding Deja from responsibility.
In addition, Jones was given a polygraph test and failed.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said, "This case is tragic, as are all shaken baby cases. It is unfortunate that Jada's father, the defendant in this case, did not take responsibility for what happened. Instead, he put Deja and her family through a trial and actually pointed the finger at Deja. I hope that Deja and the children can move forward as best they can from here."