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Witnesses claim Jones vowed to kill wife

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Changa Jones told the court Friday that he no longer wants to represent himself in his third murder trial, according to the defense attorney who will be taking over the case.

Michelle Clark, the lawyer who had been assisting Jones, said she was originally appointed by Superior Court Judge Brian Amero as "standby counsel," but will represent the defendant for the remainder of the trial.

Changa Ola Jones, Sr., 38, of Stockbridge, is charged with murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in the slaying of his wife, Natasha Monique Brown Jones, who was found strangled to death in her bedroom on Oct. 24, 2005.

Two previous trials in the case -- in March 2008, and May 2009 -- resulted in mistrials.

In the current trial, two prosecution witnesses testified in Superior Court on Friday that they heard Jones threaten to kill his wife, days before she was found dead.

The first state's witness to take the stand was the victim's mother, Shirley Felix. She said she had talked with her "upset" daughter, about a threat allegedly made by Changa Jones, two days before Natasha Jones' body was found in the bedroom of her home.

"Changa had told her that, if she wasn't out of the house by Sunday, that he would kill her," said Felix.

Felix became emotional on the stand, while talking about the weekend of her daughter's death. "I'm sorry, it just upsets me, because every time I think about the last time I saw my child ..." said Felix, before being overcome with tears.

Defense attorney Michelle Clark cross-examined Felix, and attempted to challenge Felix's recollection of what her daughter told her.

Felix, however, adamantly reiterated her claim for Clark and the jury. "Ms. Clark, that is exactly what I said because, jury, that is exactly what my daughter told me," said Felix, sharply. "I asked her about calling the police, and she said she already had a warrant out on him."

The warrant is in reference to an aggravated-assault charge against Changa Jones, which alleges that he threw a cement block through the windshield of his wife's car two months before her death.

The jury also heard testimony from Robert Swain, a former co-worker of Natasha Jones' who was, reportedly, intimately involved with the victim prior to her death. He, too, testified that he heard Changa Jones threatening the victim's life on the telephone.

"We didn't really believe he would follow through with it," said Swain.

Although Swain acknowledged that he never met Changa Jones, he testified that he recognized the defendant's voice from hearing it on Natasha Jones' speakerphone before she died.

Swain, a professional basketball player in Europe, told the court that he had been "intimate" with Natasha Jones for several weeks prior to her death. He added that the victim had planned to leave Changa Jones, and take her son to Europe, to be with Swain.

Testimony in the case is expected to continue on Monday.