Lemere Joseph Jones will serve nearly 200 years in prison for his part in a triple homicide in 2018.
On Friday, Superior Court 1 Judge Jeffrey D. Todd sentenced Jones, 30, of South Bend, to 195 years after being convicted last month for the murders of Javon D. Blackwell, 42, Javon Blackwell Jr., 12 and Jayzon Blackwell, 11.
“The bottom line is a serious offender murdered a father and his two sons,” Todd said. “... Mr. Jones should never again be a free man.”
The Blackwells’ loved ones thanked Todd after the sentence was announced.
The murders took place on Dec. 30, 2018.
Investigators stated that Jones and two other suspects had planned to rob Javon Sr.
According to video evidence played at Jones’s bench trial, Jones said he went to the front door of Javon Sr.’s home on the 2600 block of South Gallatin Street, where Javon Sr. let him in.
In the video, Jones said he pretended to get some water from the kitchen, unlocking the back door to let the other two suspects in.
Jones claims that one of the other suspects came in and immediately started shooting, according to the video.
“These kids weren’t supposed to be in there … I didn’t want them to kill those kids, man,” Jones said in the video, claiming that he would have tried to put a stop to the plan if he’d known.
Attorneys with the State of Indiana asked Todd for the maximum sentence, stating that “if there were ever a case that deserved the maximum sentence, it would be this case.”
Attorneys with the state asserted that the murders happened in the presence of minors, with investigations indicating Javon Sr. was the first to be killed, meaning that at least one of the boys could have seen or heard the shooting.
According to attorneys, investigations indicated one of the victims was shot “execution style.”
“This was a cold, calculated murder,” state attorney Jamie Lee Moore said. “They died quickly if there’s any consolation in that.”
State attorneys said Jones has an extensive criminal history, starting when he was a juvenile. According to Moore, Jones was on parole at the time of the murders.
Todd said numerous attempts at rehabilitating Jones have failed.
During the sentencing, friends and family of the Blackwells’ testified, sharing memories of the boys and questioning how a person could murder children.
Jo Messner recalled how much family means to Diana Wilson, mother of Javon Jr. and Jayzon.
“I can’t imagine what she felt when you took her children away from her,” Messner said.
Jones interrupted Messner’s testimony, claiming he was not the one that killed the boys.
“Don’t say me, I didn’t do that,” Jones yelled.
Todd warned Jones to settle down and stop disrupting the courtroom, asking his attorney Jerry T. Drook to have a talk with him.
Jones refused to talk with his attorney and was escorted out of the courthouse.
“You didn’t do it, but you allowed it to happen,” Wilson said from the gallery. “You didn’t have to unlock the door.”
While Wilson did not testify, her husband, Brandon Wilson took to the stand.
“This person … made the decision to take my boys,” he said. “I wish he could live longer so he could serve all their live sentences … Heinous crimes done by heinous people.”
Kaylie Willis, Javon Jr.’s teacher at Anderson Preparatory Academy, gave a letter to the court, testifying on how their deaths impacted everyone they knew.
She said Javon Jr. was “the student every teacher dreams of having,” as he was a respectful, kind and diligent student who’d recently discovered a love for math and science.
“He always, always took the high road,” she wrote.
She said that while she didn’t know Jayzon very well, she was excited to have him as a student this year, expecting him to be the class clown.
She wrote that not only were their deaths hard on her, but hard on their classmates, who still struggle with coping and expressing their feelings.
“The thing about sixth graders is they know the gist of grief… It was hard enough losing one of my students, but it was harder explaining Javon was never coming back,” Willis wrote. “We lost their laughter, their energy, their friendship and so much more.
“Does (Jones) realize he negatively impacted 60 little people when they should have been focused on being kids? It’s up to no one to decide when to take a life that doesn’t belong to them,” she wrote.
She said that as a way to help her students cope, they did activities dedicated to remembering Javon.
“We’re so lucky we got to know him, even for a short time,” Willis wrote. “I will never understand why they had to be ripped away from us so mercilessly. It’s a pain I will never forget for the rest of my life.”
After being removed from the courthouses, Jones was brought back via a video conference.
He declined to give testimony during the hearing.
After receiving his sentences, Jones said he would be appealing, initially saying he would hire a private attorney or represent himself.
Ultimately, Jones said he would like to be appointed a public defender, asking for his next attorney not to be Drook.
Jones is entitled to a credit of 449 actual days for time served while awaiting trial.