Children of Waco man accused of killing mother said father claimed clown broke into home, shot victim
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Quest Aljabaughn Jones’ three children said that Jones told them a clown was inside their house in the early morning hours when their mother was shot and killed, the associate director of the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children testified Wednesday.
Jones, 31, is charged with murder in Waco’s 19th State District Court in the Feb. 3, 2019, shooting death of Sherell Carter, the 26-year-old mother of his three children, ages 5, 4 and 3, at their home on Wilshire Drive in Waco.
The trial took a medical and scientific turn Wednesday as forensic specialists testified about Carter’s autopsy results, gunshot residue tests, ballistics and trace evidence analysis and cell phone examinations.
Jones, a former welder, is charged with shooting Carter multiple times in the master bedroom of their home while their three children were in another room. The shooting occurred after Carter returned home late after going to a club in Mexia with a relative and a friend.
Jones told police a masked gunman broke into their home and killed Carter. He said the intruder pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger four times, but the gun only “clicked.”
Kerry Burkley of the Advocacy Center said Jones’ three children underwent forensic interviews the day after their mother was killed. He said all three reported that their father told them a “clown” entered their house, which he said puzzled staff members at the time.
Under cross-examination from Jones’ attorney, Abel Reyna, Burkley said he obtained information about the case from Waco police investigators, but was not told that Jones’ older daughter reported to police she saw a masked man that she said looked like her toy Hamburglar, a masked character from McDonald’s.
“You were not told that she picked up her Hamburglar and identified it as looking like the person who shot their mother?” Reyna asked.
Burkley said he was not aware of that report and doesn’t recall hearing about it.
“Don’t you think that would have been an important detail to have before those children were interviewed?” Reyna asked.
Prosecutors Will Hix and Maddie Beach asked Judge Thomas West for permission to play portions of the children’s forensic interviews, which normally are inadmissible except under certain limited circumstances. Burkley will return to the stand Thursday morning and at least portions of the interviews likely will be shown to the jury.
In other testimony Wednesday, Dr. Jagbir Khangura, a former medical examiner at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas, testified Carter suffered five gunshot wounds from four bullets, including one that likely was instantly fatal and another that likely would have been fatal within minutes.
A ballistics expert testified that Carter was killed with a .38-caliber pistol.
Khangura told jurors that Carter was shot in the head behind the left ear, in the left side of the chest, on the right side of her face above the upper lip, on her right shoulder and in the neck. He said the wound to her face and the one to her chest were fired at point-blank range.
Jones, who was dressed only in shorts and socks when police arrived, told officers he went outside the smoke a cigarette about 3:30 a.m. after Carter got home and heard gunshots. He said he ran inside, then took his children to a neighbor’s house after the intruder fled. He then returned to the bedroom to try to assist Carter, he told police officers.
Jones told officers he thought Carter was still conscious and would be able to stand. So he tried to help her get up, but she collapsed to the floor, he said. He put a comforter under her head and discovered she was bleeding badly, he said.
Khangura said Carter would have been “immediately unresponsive” and unconscious after suffering the head wound.
Nicole Palmer, a former trace evidence examiner at the Dallas forensic sciences institute, said she detected a total of 23 particles of gunshot residue on Jones’ left hand, shorts, jacket, socks and on the welcome mat at the home of the neighbor who initially offered shelter to Jones’ kids after Carter was shot.
Defense attorney Craig Depew, Reyna’s co-counsel, noted during cross-examination that 23 particles of gunshot residue was a miniscule amount considering that there potentially could have been as many as 10,000 GSR particles sprayed in multiple directions with at least four shots fired.
Jones told officers he wiped his bloody hands on his neighbor’s welcome mat when he returned to pick up the kids after he realized Carter was dead and police were investigating the murder.
Prosecution testimony resumes Thursday.
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