When 12-year-old Curtis Jones was sentenced to 18 years in prison for second-degree murder in 1999, he reportedly asked if he could bring his Nintendo with him.
Now Curtis, 29, and his 30-year-old sister Catherine, are set to be released from prison in the next few weeks after 16 years behind bars, according to Florida Today.
On January 6, 1999, 12-year-old Curtis Jones and 13-year-old Catherine Jones used their father’s gun to kill his girlfriend, Sonya Speights, 29, at the family’s home in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
The original reports stated that the siblings killed Speights out of jealousy after their father told them he planned on marrying her. However, documents and child welfare reports suggested Curtis and Catherine had been the targets of sexual abuse by another male relative living with them, according to Florida Today. The kids had planned to kill him, their father, and Speights after their repeated cries for help went unanswered, Florida Today reports.
The siblings were eventually arrested and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, each receiving an 18-year sentence and probation for life. In a 2009 interview, Catherine Jones told USA Today that she regretted taking a life, but that she was willing to do anything to get away from her abuse.
“At one point I was just so happy to be away,” Catherine said. “I know that sounds, like, really messed up, but there was a point where I was just away from all that and I was by myself and I was safe.”
Here are pictures of the siblings taken before the murder:
— Empress Firecracker (@Shadesofblackuk) March 28, 2015
The Miami New Times reports that the Jones siblings will leave prison having never sent a text message or driven a car. In addition, being on probation for the rest of their lives means that the smallest infraction can land them back in prison.
Curtis will leave prison an ordained minister sporting several prison tattoos, according to the Florida Times. Catherine became pen pals with a Navy sailor who was inspired by her story. She eventually married him while she was behind bars.
Catherine holds no illusions about how hard it will be to re-enter society after 16 years.
“After spending all of my teenage years and most of my young adulthood behind bars, I’m being released into a foreign society so different from what I left behind,” she wrote in a letter to Florida Today last year.
“Of course there are fears, mainly because there’s so much I must learn to function like a normal person: how to drive, fill out job applications, text, dress for a job interview, build my credit, obtain life, dental, medical insurance. I’m completely clueless. The idea of being 30 and completely dependent on others to teach me how to do these basic things isn’t appealing. I’ll leave prison just as clueless as I was at 13.”
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