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Homicide trial gets underway

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Jones, Nelson

Defendant Jerad Jones and his attorney, Aaron Nelson, confer before the jury enters to hear opening statements.

By midday on Monday, a jury of nine women and four men was selected for the trial of a Weston man accused of shooting his brother-in-law.

Jerad A. Jones, 32, E1745 361st Ave., is charged with first degree reckless homicide. A criminal complaint said Jones shot 32-year-old Justin Ogden with a 12-gauge shotgun on Dec. 2, 2016, in the home they shared with his sister, Joanie Jones, and the couple’s four-year-old daughter. Ogden died of massive blood loss from the shoulder wound he received.

In her opening statement, Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf warned the jury that they would hear that Jones had no choice but to shoot Ogden to protect his sister, niece and himself in an act of self defense.

Nodolf said, “Justin Ogden did not have to die that day. This shooting was entirely preventable and avoidable. … Unfortunately in this household, violence and volatility between all of its adult members was the everyday norm.”

She said Ogden and Jones had an altercation that ended in physical violence. It resulted in Jones going to a neighbor’s house and leaving his sister and niece behind with Ogden. At no point did Jones say anything to the neighbor about what had taken place, she added, but told him that “he should be given a permit to shoot Justin Ogden.”

Returning home, Jones found his sister and her daughter outside. Joanie Jones told her brother that Ogden had physically assaulted her and threatened to kill her.

“Did they go get help from neighbor? (Did they go) to the open bar across the street?,” Nodolf said. “No; they decide to enter same residence — with a four year old — that they had retreated from.”

The D.A. said evidence will show that neither was in imminent fear for their safety and that Ogden was walking unarmed down the hallway where he was shot.

“While his brother-in-law Justin Ogden lay bleeding on the floor, Joanie Jones goes across the street to the bar for help,” Nodolf said. “Jared … walks out the door, goes to the middle of the street, falls to his knees, hands behind his head, and waits for approximately 16 minutes for law enforcement to arrive. By the time [they] arrived, Justin Ogden was dead.”

Nodolf asked the jury to listen carefully to the evidence, to the actual statements of the witnesses and the timing of these events.

“When you filter out the posturing, the bluster, the theatrics, the truth of the matter will be clear,” she said. “The defendant chose to shoot Justin Ogden, not for safety, not for self-defense reasons, but because he was angry. He had had enough of his brother in law’s violence.

“He did not believe in law enforcement or the justice system because he wanted to regain power in that household,” Nodolf concluded. “This was nothing short of vigilante justice, the type of justice that Dunn County cannot tolerate.”

Defense’s side

Recounting the day’s events for the jury, defense attorney Aaron Nelson of Hudson described a different scenario. In a barely audible tone, he said, “Jerad Jones was deathly afraid despite being in his own home. … Barricaded in his own room with his sister, niece … taking cover from the violent lunatic in his house.”

Outside the rural Dunn County house, Nelson said Ogden was pounding on the windows of the room to the point where they broke and cracked, telling his wife, “I’m going to get you; I’m coming in there. I’m going to slit your throat; I’m going to watch you til you bleed to death.”

According to Nelson, Joanie told him that Ogden’s eyes looked dead: “This was not the Disney dad that she married; this is the guy from ‘The Shining’.”

Nelson told the jury they would hear Joanie tell them that a wild-eyed and crazy Ogden picked up a chair and threw it at her. That when her husband was drinking, it takes at least two people to withstand attacks. That when she told him to leave, he told their daughter, “I’ll be in jail, but you’re going to wake up without a mommy. I’m going to kill this [expletive] tonight.”

When Jones later raised his shotgun, he warned Ogden not to take another step or he would shoot. Nelson said his words didn’t work and Ogden continues to advance.

“He’s coming to get the gun,” Nelson said, adding that Jared told him he just wanted Ogden to stop, that he didn’t want to kill him.

“Going through his mind is all the times that Justin has beaten him, pummeled him — including that day, twice,” Nelson said. “All the times he had attacked Joanie, unprovoked. The voice of his 4 year-old niece, frantic, saying, ‘Daddy says he’s going to kill mommy.’”

And so Jones shot Ogden in the shoulder. “It was kill or be killed,” Nelson told the jury. “The issue is: Were his beliefs reasonable? Jared Jones had to use it or lose it. He made a lawful, difficult decision to defend … from the terrorist in his own home who was coming to kill them. You must find him not guilty.”

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