D.C. jury finds Maryland man guilty in 1990 slaying

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A D.C. Superior Court jury took less than two hours Monday to find a Silver Spring man guilty of second-degree murder in the 1990 shooting of the son of a retired District homicide detective in a case of road rage.

After a four-day trial, the jury found John B. Holmes, 40, guilty in the fatal shooting of Ronald Jones Jr., 22, during an argument on the evening of July 13, 1990. Standing next to his attorneys, Holmes showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

In her closing arguments Monday morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines called Holmes a "remorseless killer" and urged the jury to give Jones's family closure after 20 years. "Justice delayed is not justice denied," Haines said.

Jones had just graduated from Norfolk State University, where he was the football team's star quarterback. He was driving with three friends when he got into an argument with another driver in the 400 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW. Jones, who was preparing to enter Howard University's law school, was shot four times, once in the mouth, by the other driver.

Haines reminded the jury of the sobbing testimony of one of Jones's friends who was in the car when he was shot to death. The friend had identified Holmes as the shooter after viewing a police photo 17 years later.

She also reminded the jury of the testimony of one of Holmes's childhood friends, Rodney Hunt, who was driving behind him when he saw his friend get into a dispute with Jones, pull out a .357 magnum and begin shooting. Hunt waited until 2003 to tell police what he saw. Holmes was charged with murder in 2008.

Holmes's attorneys, including Lloyd Nolan of the District's Public Defender Service, argued that there was no physical evidence or DNA linking Holmes to the crime scene. Nolan also said the identifications from the two main witnesses were questionable. Last week, officials picked Nolan as one of the court's newest magistrate judges.

Outside the courtroom, Jones's father, Ronald Jones, said he was "overwhelmed" by the verdict. "It's been a long time to see justice get done," said the father, who had testified at the trial.

Holmes is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 29 by Judge Michael L. Rankin.

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