BRYAN - James Jones, Jr., was sentenced yesterday to spend at least 56 years in prison for his role in the robbery, kidnapping, and killing of a Williams County motel clerk, plus a convenience-store holdup.
Judge Anthony Gretick of Williams County Common Pleas Court ordered Jones, 19, to serve the maximum time for his crimes, calling the murder of Mary Kosier “an offense that defies reason.”
Mrs. Kosier, 56, was shot in the neck on Dec. 7, 2000, after Jones and Jason Crawford robbed the Econo Lodge in Holiday City of $181. The pair held up the motel, forced Mrs. Kosier into the trunk of a car, then drove around Williams County. They stopped near a bridge, where she was forced from the car and shot. Her body was found later that day in a snow-covered ditch.
Crawford, the gunman, was sentenced in December to life in prison without parole.
Judge Gretick sentenced Jones to 20 years to life for murder, and 10 years each for counts of aggravated robbery and kidnapping in connection with the killing. Jones also was sentenced to 10 years for helping Crawford rob a convenience store in Bryan hours after the slaying.
In addition, Jones was given two mandatory three-year terms for the use of a firearm in connection with the two robberies, which netted $581. Judge Gretick ordered the sentences to be served consecutively, with credit for time served, meaning Jones will be eligible for parole when he is 74.
As the sentences were imposed, the courtroom was quiet. Jones, dressed in a green-and-white-checked shirt that hung over his olive slacks, sat impassively through the proceedings.
A day earlier he pleaded guilty to the four counts, and Judge Gretick, in turn, dismissed death-penalty specifications attached to the aggravated murder count.
Before Jones was sentenced, two of Mrs. Kosier's daughters urged the judge to impose the maximum term.
“I go to sleep at night with the thought of my mom getting into the trunk of that car,” Nancy Kosier told Jones. “There's a void in my life, and you must pay for that void.”
Ms. Kosier paused several times during her statement to fight back tears. “I cannot believe anyone would take a life for $181, but I guess that's your major malfunction: You never stopped to think, except to decide how to get rid of the body,” she told Jones.
Cheryl Jaggers said her mother was the family's emotional rock, the person she and her three siblings turned to for comfort in trying times.
“She was there for us, and I'd just like the court to know she was a very good woman,” Mrs. Jaggers said, her voice choked with emotion.
As for Jones' punishment, she added, “Unfortunately for us, nothing would seem to be sufficient.”
In remarks before the sentencing, Spiros Cocoves, an attorney for Jones, said his client was sorry for what he had done.
“I want the court to know there is remorse on James' part,” Mr. Cocoves said. “And he asked me to convey that to the court.”
Mr. Cocoves asked Judge Gretick “to give every consideration to Mr. Jones' very limited but important role” in the crimes.
The judge then asked Jones if he wished to speak.
Rising to his feet, Jones replied, “No, your honor, he said everything for me,” then sat back down.
Judge Gretick said he saw no mitigating factors that should lead him to impose less than the maximum sentences for all the crimes. “There is nothing that I've heard ... that in any way minimizes the void and the hurt of the Kosier family,” he said. “It really in the truest sense of the word was a senseless offense, an offense that defies reason.”
County prosecutor Craig Roth said he was pleased with the sentence.
“I think, practically speaking, he's got a life sentence,” Mr. Roth said. “I think we're reasonably satisfied and the family's reasonably satisfied.”
Mrs. Jaggers said her family accepts the case's outcome.
“Nothing can replace Mom,” she said afterward. “But we have to stand by what the judge said.”
Mr. Cocoves said no decision has been made on whether to appeal the sentence.
“There's a little bit of comfort in knowing that he will at some time at least be eligible for parole,” the Toledo attorney said.
Mrs. Jaggers said if that day comes, more than a half-century from now, her family will be prepared. “We will have some kind of representation at the hearing, if he has it,” she said.