Prairieville grandmother, grandson who were reported missing are found safe _lowres

Troy Jones

GONZALES — A Prairieville man has been sentenced to 30 years in state prison in a combined sentence primarily stemming from his conviction for kidnapping his estranged wife in 2015 and taking her and her then-2-year-old grandson from Ascension Parish to Lake Charles, prosecutors said Thursday.

Troy Jones, 50, was found guilty of second-degree kidnapping and aggravated battery in October 2016 after a one-day bench trial before state District Judge Thomas Kiebert Jr., prosecutors in Ascension Parish said. 

On the morning of Sept. 19, 2015, Jones had come out from behind an abandoned vehicle near his estranged wife's home as she was getting in her car with her grandson. Jones stabbed her with a shank-like object and told her and the toddler to get in her car. The woman and child, whose disappearance prompted local media attention after an Amber Alert, received minor cuts.

Jones, 38466 La. 42, Prairieville, drove them across the state to Lake Charles, making stops along the way but not allowing her to leave his sight, prosecutors said. Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s deputies captured Jones as he was planning to drive back from Lake Charles.

After the trial, Kliebert acquitted Jones of kidnapping the toddler. Prosecutors also dropped an armed robbery count against Jones before Kliebert rendered his verdict last year.

Also, before trial last year, Troy Jones' then-defense attorney filed a signed statement from the estranged wife saying she no longer wished to pursue the prosecution; however, she ended up testifying at the trial.

After the verdict but before sentencing Monday, the attorney had sought a new trial because, Jones alleged, the wife said a month before trial that she wanted to invoke her 5th Amendment rights and, then on the day of the trial, was ordered by Kliebert to testify after she asked the judge if she had to testify, in violation of spousal privilege. The wife remains legally married to Jones. Kliebert rejected the motion for new trial.

On Monday, prosecutors dropped a bid to have Jones billed as a habitual offender over previous convictions and have Jones face what could have amounted to a virtual life sentence. 

But in sentencing Jones, Kliebert noted the defendant's criminal past, including the 1993 second-degree kidnapping and armed robbery convictions in Jefferson Parish with which prosecutors had sought to bill Jones as a habitual offender.

Kliebert gave Jones 20 years for the second-degree kidnapping charge, five years for the aggravated battery charge, and another five years for a separate charge from March of introducing contraband into a penal institution to which Jones also pleaded guilty Monday. Kliebert ordered that the sentences run consecutively for a total of 30 years.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.