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Trial begins for father accused of murdering son

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

Opening arguments and testimony, in the trial of a man accused of murder in the death of his 17-month-old son, began on Monday.

Jamall Decarlos Mathis, 20, is accused of brutally killing his son, Ja'Mari Myckahi Jones, on Sept. 17, 2009.

Mathis is charged with malice murder, battery, aggravated assault, cruelty to children, felony murder, and two counts of aggravated battery, according to a Clayton County Superior Court indictment.

In opening arguments, the executive assistant to the Clayton County District Attorney, Lalaine Briones, said the victim died so that the defendant could live as he wished. "This child died for nothing, but money," said Briones.

The prosecution argued that Mathis was frustrated about paying child support, and decided to take matters into his own hands by killing the child.

"The accused did maliciously cause Jamari Jones, a child under 18, cruel [and] excessive physical and mental pain, by hitting him about his head and body with a blunt object and/or his hands ...," according to the arrest warrant in the case.

The trauma caused massive skull fractures, swelling to the brain, and hemorrhaging, the warrant stated. According to the indictment, Mathis also caused injury to the child's right arm.

"Jamari Jones was declared brain dead," the warrant said. It added that the suspect's acts caused the child's death.

The warrant said the incident occurred on Iron Gate Boulevard, in Jonesboro. The child was visiting the home of his father and his father's family, said Briones. According to Briones, Mathis grabbed a bat and struck the boy.

The defense attorney, Leon Hicks, said that Mathis and his son had a very loving relationship. According to Hicks, Mathis left the child in the room alone, as he went to use the computer. "He heard a thump," said Hicks, who added that Mathis said his son fell off a bed, and developed a large knot, and eventually stopped breathing.

This fall is what led to the death of Ja'Mari Jones, Hicks said. The defense attorney argued that Mathis did not kill his child.

Briones said that the child allegedly slept on the floor, and was never placed in a bed. She added that such injuries could not be caused by just a fall.

The prosecution and defense said that no one in the suspect's home, witnessed the child being hit by Mathis, or the child falling off a bed.

The trial will continue Tuesday in Clayton County Superior Court, with Judge Deborah Benefield presiding.