Meet Daniel John Jones, California CPA #82859 and inmate #AV7086 at California State Prison Solano, where he's doing 40 years to life. Last Friday, a California appeals court upheld Jones' 2013 conviction for second degree murder, ensuring he won't be out in time for 2017 busy season. How could it have come to this for a member of our esteemed profession? I mean, the guy drove a Mercedes and all.
On March 13, 2013, Mr. Jones had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. The 44-year-old married man was hanging out with his girlfriend, Karon Brown, at her apartment in Riverside, Calif. He had recently lost his CPA job for hitting the bottle too hard. True to form, he began the day by chugging a liter of vodka before 11:00 a.m, which didn't mix well with the Xanax he was on.
After an action-packed day of choking and smacking Brown, getting locked out of her apartment, and downing another half-bottle of vodka, Jones ended up on the balcony in front of the apartment with Brown and her two kids. At around 6:00 p.m., Brown's next-door neighbor, Miles Conley, came home. As Conley was entering his apartment, Jones asked him, apropos of nothing, if he was fucking Brown. Conley went inside.
Jones went down to his car and returned to Conley's apartment wearing an FBI cap. He entered Conley's living room, flashed a badge, and drew a semiautomatic from behind his back. After a brief scuffle, he shot Conley in the knee.
Jones headed downstairs and stood outside the front doorway of Conley's downstairs neighbor, Jim Weatherby, who was almost completely blind. Weatherby had heard the gunshot upstairs and was on the phone with 911. Jones shot Weatherby in the back and killed him. Then he got in his Mercedes and left.
While driving on the freeway, Jones clipped a truck and crashed into a barrier. Two motorists stopped and got out of their cars to investigate. Jones staggered out of his car, drew two handguns, pointed them at the motorists, and threatened to take one of them hostage. The motorists took cover, and one of them flagged down a highway patrol car. Jones surrendered to the highway patrol.
At trial, Jones claimed he shot Weatherby in self-defense. He argued that in his drunken stupor, he thought the phone in Weatherby's hand was a gun, and that the blind man was about to shoot him. The jury didn't buy it.
But nevermind them. I submit this case to you, a true jury of Jones' peers. Who among you hasn't reached for the vodka and Xanax on that long journey that ends with a Mercedes and marital problems? There but for the grace of God goes you with your FBI cap and badge! So I ask you: what simple twist of fate made Jones go apeshit when he could have just wound up with a DUI like most CPAs?
For more details, download the appeals court's complete opinion here.