Man faces 2 life terms without parole in campground slayings
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man has been convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two men at a Philadelphia-area campground two years ago.
Jurors in Bucks County deliberated for about seven hours before convicting Miles Jones on Monday in the October 2019 deaths at Homestead Family Campgrounds in West Rockhill Township.
Jones, 42, was also convicted of weapons counts and more than a dozen counts of recklessly endangering another person, one for each other person present at the annual gathering of friends and relatives at the campground.
Although Jones initially faced the possibility of the death penalty, Deputy District Attorney Edward Louka said Monday he had decided against pursuing that after talking to the victims’ families. Jones now faces two mandatory life terms without possibility of parole when he is sentenced Thursday.
Prosecutors said an early morning argument began between Jones and his girlfriend, and he was persuaded to leave to calm down but returned with a 9mm handgun and shot Eric Braxton and Arthur Hill. Braxton, 41, was a teacher at a Philadelphia charter school and Hill, 46, worked with troubled juveniles in Norristown.
Jones took the stand Wednesday and said he was assaulted and then forced into a car, where he grabbed a gun he had for protection against bears. He said he then tried to leave but was hobbled by a foot injury and when the crowd approached again he used the gun to prevent another assault.
Defense attorney Kenneth Hone, who declined comment after the verdict, had asked jurors Friday for an acquittal, saying Jones feared for his life and acted in self-defense.
“In a matter of moments, alone, injured, and outnumbered, Miles Jones had to do something he never wanted to do,” Hone said, adding that his client had no “malice in his heart” and never intended to kill anyone.
Prosecutors, however, have characterized Jones as the aggressor, and Deputy District Attorney Edward Louka called his version of events a “self-serving lie.” Prosecutors said Hill and his two sons tried to calm Jones, but he violently pushed Hill and one of the sons punched Jones, who then threatened them, saying “nobody’s safe.”
“He killed their family members then taunted them while they were hiding in the woods,” Louka said.