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Cape man charged in killing
Victim names alleged shooter in dying words, police say
By Mike Wells ~ Southeast Missourian
Billy Jones Jr.'s death was not intentional, but it was still murder, law enforcement authorities said Tuesday.
A 25-year-old man was charged with killing Jones after being identified by the victim as he lay dying in a hospital bed, police said.
Jibril B. Walton is accused of shooting Jones Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of the National Guard Armory at Indepedence and East Rodney. The suspect is currently in custody at the Cape Girardeau County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.
"Walton admitted to me that he fired the shots that killed Billy Jones Jr., but he said he was actually shooting at the passenger, Dartanyus Harris, who he thought was reaching for a gun," police Cpl. David Sanders said in a probable cause statement.
Sanders said a passenger in Walton's car also indicated to police Walton was the shooter.
Though the investigation is continuing, Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle said he does not expect to file more charges.
"We think this defendant was acting alone," he said. "If we felt there had been deliberation and planning to kill Jones, it would have been first-degree murder."
Relatives of Jones' and police said the shooting stemmed from an argument Saturday night Walton had with a cousin of the victim. The argument took place near Morgan Oak and Sprigg.
Jones was attempting to stop the fight on Saturday, said his sister, Joannie "JJ" Smith. "He didn't like to fight. He liked to get down to the bottom of stuff. He was not a violent person, he was good. He'd help anybody if he could."
After the argument, Walton allegedly told another witness that if someone was going to hurt him, he would get them first, Sanders said. Based on the witness' statement to police, it was unclear whose threat he was responding to.
After Sunday's shooting, witnesses reported a gold, mid-sized car parked in the armory parking lot and Jones' car parked next to it. Several gunshots were heard, and moments later Jones and Harris exited the vehicle and dove to the ground. Harris then drove Jones to Southeast Missouri Hospital, where Jones named his alleged killer.
"At the hospital, Billy Jones made a dying declaration to patrolman Kevin Naeger that 'Jibril' shot him," Sanders said.
Walton was convicted in July 2000 of attempting to deliver marijuana and was sentenced to three years in prison. Swingle said an early release from prison on a drug charge is not uncommon.
"On most sentences, a person will only serve a quarter to a third of a sentence," he said.
Jones fathered seven children, his sister said. One of his children, Jacob, died in June 2001 at 16 months.
Nicole White, a former girlfriend and mother to Jones' youngest child, a 2-month-old daughter, described him as a generous father.
"The night before he died, he had just brought me money for our baby's daycare and to pick her out an outfit. ... The real Billy was nice, sweet. He was always out to help somebody."
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He would never hurt anybody. He defended the people that were close to him. He would not ever let anything happen to them. ... He had no enemies and he got shot over something that didn't have anything to do with him.
Smith wants everyone to know what kind of man her brother really was. Despite his criminal history, her brother was not a menace and was not part of the problem that got him killed, she said.
"I don't know what the argument was about -- Billy probably didn't know what it was about," she said. "All he was trying to do is stop five big dudes from jumping on his cousin. ... It doesn't make sense to take someone's life over some words."
Smith intends to follow the suspect's case closely, hoping for a postive outcome.
"I will be in that courtroom every court date," Smith said. "I want to see justice served. I hope they never get out of prison.
Funeral arrangements for Jones will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. in New Albany, Miss.