In 1995, Elwood Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the brutal murder of Rhoda Nathan at the Embassy Suites in Blue Ash. Ms. Nathan was staying at the Embassy Suites to attend a bar mitzvah. Ms. Nathan was beaten to death and her custom pendant was taken from around her neck. Among her numerous injuries, Ms. Nathan was hit so hard in the face, two teeth were knocked out.
Jones was working at the Embassy Suites the day of Ms. Nathan’s murder. Jones was in possession of a master room key; he was in possession of a hand-held radio that matched bruising on Ms. Nathan’s body; he was in possession of door chains that matched bruising on Ms. Nathan’s body; Ms. Nathan’s custom pendant was found in Jones’ trunk; Jones was suffering from a hand infection caused by a clenched fist coming into contact with bacteria found in the human mouth. Jones gave multiple, conflicting stories relating to how he received this injury.
Ms. Nathan’s pendant was created by her late husband using the diamonds from his mother’s wedding ring. This piece of jewelry was unique and something Ms. Nathan never took off.
Today, Elwood Jones was granted a new trial by Judge Wende Cross. In her decision, Judge Cross accused the prosecutors of withholding evidence from the defendant.
Jones has exhausted all of his appeals. Each and every appellate court that reviewed Jones’ claims has found them to be meritless.
The United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals specifically reviewed all of the evidence that was used as grounds to grant the new trial today. The 6th Circuit determined that these items were not material and did not justify appellate relief.
Importantly, Judge Cross ruled today that the State’s failure to disclose Ms. Nathan’s Hepatitis B infection was grounds for a new trial. However, the federal courts ruled that the State did not fail to disclose this information. This information was provided to Jones’ infectious disease expert prior to trial.
The only new issue presented to this court was an alleged “confession” of another man. This information was provided by a woman named Deloris Suggs who was in jail with Linda Reed in 1995. Linda Reed was found mentally incompetent and was divorcing her husband Earl. Ms. Suggs claims that Linda told her that Earl told Linda he had killed a woman in Blue Ash. This information is double hearsay and would not be admissible in court. The Ohio Supreme Court has made clear that inadmissible evidence is not material, and not grounds for a new trial. However, Judge Wende Cross disagreed.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters commented, “This decision today is cruel. It is cruel to the victim’s family, cruel to the law enforcement officers who investigated this case, and cruel to the citizens of Hamilton County.
Jones has made 10 prior attempts to overturn his conviction – and each and every judge who reviewed his case upheld his conviction.
It is only after shopping for his 11th judge that he found a judge to buy into this nonsense. It is shocking to me that a trial court judge can so easily ignore the binding decisions of superior courts.
What is even more shocking is the personal attacks and accusations that anyone in this office would hide evidence. It is baseless and, frankly, appalling.
We absolutely will appeal Judge Cross’ decision.”