Jury finds murder suspect guilty; will spend life in prison

Photo by Kaila Jones

Henry Lee Jones Jr. will spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole for the 2011 murder of Central Beach resident Brian Simpson.

Henry Lee Jones

An Indian River County jury on Thursday found Jones guilty of two first-degree felony charges – First Degree Felony Murder and Armed Robbery and Assault and Battery. The jury determined that there was not enough evidence to convict Jones of a third charge – the actual shooting of Simpson.

Shortly after the jury announced their verdict, Circuit Court Judge Daniel Vaughn sentenced Jones to two life sentences with no chance of parole.

Jones was initially found guilty of first-degree murder for the same crime in 2014 and received a life sentence at that time. But Jones, now 30, was granted a second trial in 2017 after the fourth District Court of Appeals overturned his conviction.

Justices argued that a new trial was warranted because Jones’ public defender was not allowed to question potential jurors about racial prejudice or bias. Jones is African-American, Simpson, 41, was white.

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