At the beginning of accused murderer Chris Jones' bond hearing last week, his large family piled into wooden benches on one side of a cramped courtroom at 201 Poplar. At the center of the crowd, the white-haired family patriarch and former City Council member E.C. Jones sat with a stern face.
Across the aisle was the family of slain Windjammer Restaurant & Lounge DJ Donald Munsey, many of them wearing white T-shirts with a picture of Munsey's smiling face over the words "In Loving Memory."
Former Shelby County sheriff's deputy Chris Jones, who sat at the front of the courtroom in a blue jailhouse jumpsuit, is charged with second-degree murder in the March shooting death of Munsey after an altercation in the parking lot of the Windjammer, an East Memphis karaoke bar. Jones' attorney, Leslie Ballin, was hoping to convince Criminal Court judge Anthony C. Johnson to lower Jones' bond from $500,000 to $100,000.
After the judge called E.C. Jones to the stand as a character witness for his son, a man on the Munsey side of the courtroom yelled out, "Is that E.C. or Sleazy?"
"Who said that?" asked Judge Johnson. The judge asked the man to stand and announce his name. Carson Munsey, the father of Donald Munsey, was then asked to leave the courtroom.
Once on the stand, the former councilman told the judge that Chris would be living at his parents' house until he goes to trial.
After the shooting, Chris lost his job with the sheriff's office and subsequently his vehicle and home. E.C. said his son has a job waiting for him at a local car wash.
"When something like this happens and you serve in law enforcement, you're not given the opportunity to wait and see if you're proven guilty. He was asked to resign from the sheriff's office," said E.C., also a former police officer.
The prosecution then called Chris Jones' ex-wife, Jamie Jones, to the stand. The Jones' divorce was finalized in February, two weeks before the shooting. Their divorce proceedings began almost four years earlier in December 2004. Jamie said Chris' behavior became more and more erratic as the divorce proceedings progressed.
"He'd call me crying, and 20 minutes later, he'd call back and call me names," said Jamie. "Some days, he'd call 30 to 50 times."
Jamie Jones also testified that her ex-husband once showed her three bullets, one bearing her name in black marker. The other two had her boyfriend's name and Chris' name written on them.
Though Ballin told the judge that Chris is currently on medication for mental illness, the judge called the former officer a "public safety concern" and delayed lowering the bond until Ballin can show proof that Chris' condition has stabilized.
A new bond hearing is set for September 3rd.
"We hope we'll be able to come back then and bring someone in who knows Chris to show that he doesn't have an exemplary [law enforcement] record," said Christie Walker, Donald Munsey's sister, outside the courtroom. "Chris Jones has done some bad things."