Two men and 12 women were selected to the jury and alternate panel for a murder trial set to start Tuesday morning in Liberty County Superior Court.
The trial stems from an unsolved homicide case from 2010 that was one of four cold cases the City of Hinesville Police Department had on their unsolved homicide list.
During an interview regarding unsolved homicides featured in the Coastal Courier in June 2012, Hinesville Police detective Jeff Davis reported that two men wearing masks burst into Orlejandro Mark Smalls’ South Main Street apartment, breaking up a poker party and shooting Smalls to death. The shooting occurred on Oct. 29, 2010.
“Basically, Mark Smalls and some friends of his would throw a poker game twice a week … and that night there were six other people there,” Davis said during the 2012 interview. “There was a bang on the door. Mark goes to see who it is … The door opens and people hear a scuffle taking place in the kitchen. Mark gets pushed out into the living room. The two guys come out into the living room. They are wearing masks and carrying guns and they ordered everybody down on the floor.”
Davis said one of the men was barking out commands and later shot Smalls. Davis said the other poker players started jumping out windows to get away.
Several interviews with witnesses were conducted the HPD was not able to establish a case.
Jones was arrested in October 2013 after Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes and Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier formed a joint task force to gather information in the July 2013 shooting death of youth basketball mentor and coach Ernie Walthour.
Walthour reportedly was killed during an attempted armed robbery as he was leaving a poker game.
Although no one has been charged in Walthour’s death, the investigation yielded sufficient evidence to arrest Jones in connection with other cases ranging from armed robbery, aggravated assault, the murder of Orlejandro Marquise Smalls and the armed robbery and aggravated assault of eight other people who were at a poker game the night of Smalls’ death.
Smalls and Walthour reportedly knew each other, and the cases’ modi operandi were too similar to overlook, Sikes said in 2013.
Monday, jury selection last until nearly 3 p.m.
According to the criminal trial calendar Jones is facing two counts of murder, nine counts of aggravated assault, nine counts of armed robbery, one count of burglary, one count of possession of a firearm or knife during commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies and one count of possession of a firearm by convicted felon.
Liberty County Superior Court Judge D. Jay Stewart excused the jury instructing them to report to court Tuesday morning for opening arguments. Jones is being represented by Public Defenders Joshua Brockington and John Ely.
Presenting the case on behalf of the state is Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden and ADA Melissa Poole.
Jones — along with two other suspects — is allegedly also under indictment in McIntosh County for murder and was out on bond before the LCSO arrested him. Jones also may be connected to a bank robbery in Georgia and might have ties to another criminal incident in the Miami-Dade, Fla., area, according to information provided by the sheriff in 2013.
According to the Georgia Department of Corrections Jones has served time in prison for robberies that were prosecuted in Glynn and McIntosh County.