An Orleans Parish judge sent the jury in an attempted-murder and gun-possession trial home Wednesday after the defendant showed up in court with a 2-inch wound in his back from what his attorney and his father both said was an attack inside Orleans Parish Prison.
Timothy Jones, 25, got around slowly in the courtroom, wearing long dreadlocks tied in rubber bands and a blue dress shirt that hid the gash in his lower back.
He’d spent the night in the hospital and was loaded up on painkillers.
After viewing medical reports, Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman postponed the trial until June 29. The jury was selected on Tuesday, but Herman had yet to swear it in, avoiding the need for a mistrial.
Herman declined to mention the stabbing from the bench, referring only to “an incident that took place overnight while he was incarcerated.”
She ordered Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office to take “whatever steps are necessary to ensure his safety.”
Her dismissal of the jury marked the second time in less than a week that odd circumstances forced a sudden halt to a trial at Criminal District Court. Last week, Harry Riggins, who was free on bond, walked out of his trial on a gun possession charge and disappeared.
Jones, who is from Tennessee, was set to be tried on one count of attempted murder and three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The gun counts stemmed from a rifle and other weapons that police and federal agents turned up at a hotel room in February 2014. Less than a week later, prosecutors say, Jones fired two shots at Craig Weary, now 22, at a house in the 2500 block of Gladiolus Street in Gentilly.
Court records show Jones has a prior robbery conviction from Shelby County, Tennessee.
Weary’s hip bone was shattered and a bullet lodged in his spine, leaving him without feeling in his lower extremities, according to a police report.
As of Wednesday morning, Jones had not revealed the identity of his jailhouse attacker. But a spokesman for Gusman’s office said in an email that deputies had recovered two shanks after separating Jones and Gary Simmons following a dispute about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Old Parish Prison building.
“Inmate Jones sustained wounds to his lower back and right torso area, plus minor lacerations. Inmate Simmons sustained a cut to his right hand. Both were transported by EMS personnel to Interim LSU Hospital, where they were treated for their injuries, and later returned to different jail facilities,” spokesman Philip Stelly said.
He added that the Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the incident and that charges may be filed.
Simmons, 31, has a lengthy arrest record, according to court records. He is scheduled for trial next month on charges of attempted murder, attempted aggravated rape and kidnapping.
The defendant’s father, Timothy Jones Sr., said someone had beaten his son in the head Monday night, and Jones showed up for jury selection Tuesday with a welt on his forehead. Then he was stabbed Tuesday night, requiring stitches, his father said.
“They jumped on him yesterday, and today they stabbed him. Something needs to be done,” he said. “It don’t really make sense at all. Somebody dropped the ball.”
Jones’ defense attorney, Michael Idoyaga, said his client was being moved Wednesday to a jail medical tier while officials figure out where to place him.
Idoyaga said the Sheriff’s Office has refused to move his client out of the parish. He said it was unclear how Gusman’s office plans to safeguard Jones before his trial.
“He’s from out of town. He doesn’t have a neighborhood he comes from” in New Orleans, Idoyaga said. “He doesn’t have the protection of a large group. He’s alone.”
Idoyaga had asked for the delay in the trial, arguing that in his medicated state, Jones could not adequately assist in his own defense.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.