Plymouth County Superior Court Justice Cornelius Moriarty has ruled that the prosecutors cannot introduce any portion of a videotape made of a witness identifying Jones.
In an evidentiary hearing last year, the video was determined to have been deliberately altered and the lead investigator who made it was found to have lied at the original trial and later evidentiary hearing. The video of the eyewitness to the murder had a bizarre edit that replaced at least 15 seconds of the recording with a 1950s sitcom, "The Phil Silvers Show."
Jones was convicted of murdering a Brockton drug dealer in 1986 and was serving a life without parole sentence when he was released last December and his conviction was overturned by Superior Judge Thomas McGuire. McGuire ruled the all-white jury in the 1986 trial was racially prejudiced.
Judge Moriarty's ruling leaves prosecutors with little evidence to proceed with re-trying Jones. None of the eyewitnesses who testified at the trial made an in-court identification of Jones as the shooter. No forensic evidence linked him to the murder and no evidence was presented as to motive or whether Jones even knew the victim.
The Plymouth County district attorney did not respond to a request for comment on the ruling. Another hearing on motions to dismiss witness testimony is pending. If the district attorney decides to re-try Jones for the murder, the trial will begin January 7, 2019.