‘I want you’: Trial of Waco man accused of killing mother of his children takes emotional turn during courtroom outburst
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Quest Aljabaughn Jones’ murder trial got off to an unusually emotional start Tuesday after the victim’s stepfather angrily interrupted a defense attorney’s opening statements with an explicit-laden outburst before the judge ordered him from the courtroom.
Jones, 31, is on trial in Waco’s 19th State District Court in the Feb. 3, 2019, shooting death of Sherrell Carter at a home he shared with Carter and their three young children.
Jones, who has been in jail 1,310 days, is charged with shooting Carter five times while their children were in another room after she returned from a night out partying in Mexia with her cousin and best friend.
Jones told police that a masked intruder broke into their home in the 5600 block of Wilshire Drive and killed Carter before pointing the gun at him and pulling the trigger four times. He said the gun “just clicked” and the man fled.
Craig Depew, who represents Jones with Abel Reyna, told the jury in opening statements about how a frantic Jones ran door-to-door with his three children until a neighbor across the street took them so Jones would return and check on Carter. The animated Depew walked around the courtroom to illustrate how Jones knocked on his neighbor’s doors.
As he walked to the side of the courtroom gallery in which about 25 of Carter’s family and friends were seated, Bo Brown, Carter’s stepfather, yelled, “bull----. That’s bull----.” As courtroom deputes led him away, Brown scowled at Jones, pointed at him and said, “I want you. I want you.”
An obviously shaken Depew tried to continue his opening remarks, but stopped abruptly and said, “I feel like I’ve just been threatened. Can I take a five-minute break?”
Judge Thomas West asked prosecutors Will Hix and Maddie Beach and Depew and Reyna to join him in his chambers. The attorneys emerged after a few minutes and the judge admonished the jury to disregard the outburst.
Brown was escorted from the courthouse.
Beach told the jury in her opening that Carter, 26, was shot in her bedroom about 3:30 a.m. while her children, ages 5, 4 and 3, were asleep in their room. She said Carter was shot in the head behind her left ear, in the chest, the back and right side of the face. She also had a large laceration on her arm and broken teeth.
Beach said inconsistencies in Jones’ stories to police that don’t match up to a timeline of events led police to charge him. Witnesses told police the couple had a tumultuous, 10-year relationship that included multiple incidents of domestic violence against Carter.
Carter’s friends and family members testified Tuesday that Jones and Carter were on the verge of breaking up for good.
Depew told the jury that Jones’ son woke up and saw the intruder in the home, describing his masked face as resembling his toy Hamburglar from McDonald’s.
Depew said Jones told police about a man who wandered the neighborhood asking for ketchup, sugar and other items, offering him as a possible murder suspect. However, police locked in on Jones as the killer and failed to properly investigate other potential suspects, Depew said.
However, Waco police Detective Scarlett Woodruff, one of the first officers to arrive at the home that night and who conducted the first interview with a distraught Jones, told her supervisor – at least initially - she didn’t think Jones shot Carter.
Hix and Beach played video footage from Woodruff’s body camera for the jury, which showed Jones, dressed only in shorts and socks, screaming loudly and asking officers to help Carter.
After trying to calm Jones, who told the officer he worked as a welder at Alamo Steel, officers cuffed Jones and put him into the back of a patrol car. Woodruff and officer Cody Plunkett returned to the home, where at least two TV sets were blaring at high volume. As the officer looked around the home, within minutes Woodruff asks Plunkettt, “You think maybe he did it?”
“I’m starting to think so,” Plunkett said.
Later, Woodruff is seen on camera talking to Jones in the patrol vehicle. Jones pleads with the officers to save Carter and asks repeatedly why the intruder didn’t shoot him instead. Woodruff told the jury that he had to tell Jones multiple times that Carter was dead.
Jones told Woodruff he went outside to smoke a cigarette after Carter got home and heard five gunshots. He ran inside, where he said the intruder tried to shoot him.
He said after he took his three children to a neighbor’s home, he helped Carter get off the bed and thought she was going to stand up. Instead, she fell to the floor and he put a comforter behind her head, which was bleeding, he said.
Prosecution testimony will resume Wednesday morning.
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