Jack Swerling knows what it’s like preparing for a death penalty case.
Swerling, a Columbia-area defense attorney nicknamed “Mr. Murder,” has defended up to 13 of them, including some of the most infamous murderers in South Carolina history like Lexington County’s Larry Jean Bell and serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins.
Even though Swerling has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to death penalty defense, he said he does not envy anyone who is preparing for a potential death penalty case.
“There’s nothing like defending a death penalty case, because of the consequences and because of what it means if you lose,” Swerling said. “The stress is huge.”
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Last Wednesday, defense attorney Robert Madsen who is representing 33-year-old Timothy Ray Jones Jr., the Lexington County father accused of killing his five children and burying them in shallow graves in Alabama, filed two motions to disclose all evidence the state has against Jones that could be favorable for him later in court. Although 11th Circuit Solicitor Donnie Meyers has not announced that he is pursuing the death penalty against Jones, the defense is gearing up for what seems to be a death penalty case.
“Right now it’s a search and investigation on the facts, the reports, the statements and anything you find out about the case,” Swerling said in reference to the motions. “It’s standard to file the motions.”
Swerling said the two types of motions that are normally filed
The defense team for Timothy Ray Jones Jr., the Lexington County father accused of killing his five children before dumping their bodies in Alabama, filed a motion Wednesday to see all of the evidence against their client.
Public defender Robert Madsen, who is representing Jones, filed two motions to see all of the evidence favorable to his client, according to Lexington County court records.
On Sept. 8, 2014, 33-year-old Jones was charged with with five counts of murder in connection with the death of his children – identified as Merah, 8; Elias, 7; Nahtahn, 6; Gabriel, 2; and Elaine Marie, 1 – after he led Lexington County investigators to the Alabama site where he said he dumped their bodies.
Investigators said they believe the children were killed some time around Aug. 28, 2014, due to the advanced state of decomposition of their bodies. Court documents revealed that investigators believe Jones killed four of his children by strangulation, while the fifth died of other violent means.
Solicitor Donnie Meyers has not yet filed for the death penalty in the case.
The case is the largest mass murder in recent Midlands history.