Limestone man’s manslaughter case in limbo

Posted June 15, 2010, at 11:42 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

LIMESTONE, Maine — A local teenager who found out early last month that he will be tried as an adult in connection with the April 2009 death of his 3-month-old daughter has not yet indicated to the court whether he will waive indictment on the manslaughter charge or wait for his case to be presented to the Aroostook County grand jury.

Officials at Aroostook County Superior Court confirmed Tuesday that they still are awaiting a decision on the matter.

Nicklas Jones, 18, of Limestone learned during a bind-over hearing that occurred over a two-day period last month that he would be tried as an adult in the case. Jones was 17 in April when he allegedly threw his daughter, Joselyn Jones, into her crib to stop her from crying.

According to testimony in the case, Jones told police that he threw her and she hit her head during the incident. The baby died four days later at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor of blunt force trauma to the head. Jones was arrested May 1, 2009, and pleaded not guilty to a charge of manslaughter in Caribou District Court shortly afterward. He has been held at Mountain View Correctional Facility in Charleston ever since.

Saying it was “difficult for the court to imagine a more serious offense,” District Court Judge Ronald Daigle ordered during the recent hearing that Jones be bound over to Aroostook County Superior Court as an adult to await action by the grand jury in connection with the charge.

Jones’ attorney, Anthony Trask, sought to have his client tried as a juvenile, so that if convicted he would have to be released by the time he is 21 years old. Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson argued for Jones to be tried as an adult, whereby if convicted he faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

As a juvenile, Jones was charged with assaulting his mother in 2005, refusing to submit to arrest and various probation violations, including drinking, engaging in new criminal behavior and refusing to participate in counseling. He spent 20 days in Mountain View as punishment. Trask acknowledged the charges during the bind-over hearing and described his client as “immature” and a “mouthy kid,” but argued that Jones never had caused significant injury to anyone.

Daigle said he considered several factors while weighing his decision, including the seriousness of the crime and the character of the defendant. He described Jones’ past behavior as “impulsive” and “assaultive” and pointed to testimony indicating Jones had admitted to police that he threw his daughter into her crib, but said Jones “minimizes it now by calling it an accident.”

Daigle set bail at $50,000 surety or $10,000 cash, which Jones has been unable to make.

The judge told Jones during the recent hearing that he had the right to waive indictment by the grand jury, but Jones told the judge he did not understand what he meant. Daigle ordered Trask to confer with his client so that a decision could be rendered at a later date.

Trask could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The grand jury will not meet again until July.