LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. — The ex-wife of a man who was found guilty of killing their five children in South Carolina took the stand this week to ask jurors not to sentence him to death.
Amber Kyzer was married to Timothy Jones Jr. for eight years and lived in Lexington County until 2012 — when they got a divorce and shared joint custody of their children.
After their marriage ended, she was left without a job, a car or a license, and believed it’d be best to give her former husband primary custody of the children, CNN affiliate WIS reported.
“I had nothing to offer my children, I could not provide for them,” she said. “As a mother, I made the best decision I could. I trusted my husband at the time. He promised to take care of our children.”
Then on August 28, 2014, she called her children like she always did at 7 p.m. — but something was different. Her children were screaming in the background and her son sounded like he was gasping for air, she said. Then her husband disconnected the phone, and did not answer numerous calls from her afterward, she said.
She later found out he’d killed their children Mera, 8; Elias, 7; Nahtahn, 6; Gabriel, 2; and Abigail 1.
Jones pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, WIS reported. After three weeks of testimony, a jury found him guilty of five counts of murder on June 4. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty and a jury will determine the punishment.
‘Nothing justifies what you’ve done’
Kyzer said while she was outraged at Jones for killing the children, she was pleading for his life on their behalf.
“He did not show my children mercy by any means. But my kids loved him and if I’m speaking on behalf of my kids and not myself, that’s what I would have to say,” she testified Tuesday. “I’m not here for me. The mom in me wants him to feel everything that I feel, that my kids felt. Nothing justifies, nothing justifies what you’ve done.”
During the hearing, she turned to the man she was once married to and told him how she loved him at one point, and so did their children. Jones wiped away tears with a handkerchief.
Kyzer said she’d not attended most hearings in person but had watched them on livestream and found out grim details on how her children died at the same time as other people in the courtroom.
He put their bodies in trash bags and dumped them
Her husband dumped the children’s bodies in trash bags off a dirt road in Alabama. He was arrested while driving on September 6, 2014.
South Carolina Department of Corrections officers — Lt. Travis Pressley and Ben Boyd — testified how after he was processed and put in a room, Jones came clean and described how he killed the children.
He explained how he strangled them and choked them — some with his bare hands while he used a belt on others, Pressley said, according to the affiliate.
“I was finding out along with you guys and the world what had happened to my children. So in retrospect, the mom in me was like, fry him, fry him, absolutely. But from the beginning, I have maintained — I’m not a death penalty — I’m a strong believer in no death penalty,” Kyzer said.
Others have asked the jury to spare his life
Kyzer said she does not want her husband’s family to feel the pain of losing a son like she did.
“If I could personally rip his face off, I would,” she said, according to the affiliate. “That’s the momma bear in me. I do not wish on the Jones family what I felt losing my sons.”
She told the jury about the alleged abuse she suffered while married to Jones, sometimes in the presence of their children. She described how he used to spit on her, headbutt her and threaten to chop her up.
In addition to Kyzer, Jones’ grandmother and his father have also asked the jury not to sentence him to death.