Raheem Davon Jones’ former girlfriend, Lauryn Hampton, 21, painted dual personalities of him during her testimony Tuesday.
She testified that he was a kind person while prosecutors questioned her about the two known incidents in which Jones physically abused her.
Hampton was one of six witnesses the prosecution called to testify in front of a Victoria County jury during the punishment phase of Jones’ murder trial. Jurors are tasked with sentencing Jones after they found him guilty of Vonsell Ramirez’s murder Monday afternoon.
Jones faces between five and 99 years in prison. Marissa Martinez and Braylen Snell are also accused of Ramirez’s murder and have not yet faced criminal trials.
Hampton has known Jones since they were 12 years old, and they started dating off and on in recent years. The two share a 6-month-old daughter. Hampton testified that he made a mistake when he killed Ramirez in June 2016 with a beer bottle and that he will grow as a person.
“I think he’ll come out of it as a better person,” she testified. “I know he’s going to be an amazing father when he gets out.”
Special Victoria County prosecutor Edward Wilkinson questioned Hampton about the two instances in which Jones abused her. One of the times occurred in 2017 and the other in May 2019. Both incidents occurred while Jones was out of jail on a $300,000 bond.
The fall 2017 altercation happened in the front seat of Hampton’s Jeep. Jones was upset because he thought Hampton had been seeing another man, she explained.
Jones grabbed her by the head and pulled her to the passenger side, where he held her head down on the floorboard with his foot. He then blasted the heater, Hampton testified.
Hampton explained during defense attorney Micah Hatley’s cross-examination that Jones was under extreme pressure because of his capital murder indictment.
“I don’t think he’s a violent person,” she said when Wilkinson asked about Jones’ temperament. “It was like any other relationship. We had our ups and downs.”
The May 11 incident occurred at Hampton’s home soon after their daughter was born. The two were drinking vodka and Sprite when Jones wanted to leave. Hampton testified that she wouldn’t give him a ride, so he physically held her down.
“I was on the floor, and he had his hands restraining my hands,” she testified.
That night, Jones drove a vehicle to Victoria, where he hit a parked car and ended up in a field. He was arrested for public intoxication and failure to identify, Victoria police officer Royall Allen testified for the prosecution.
The prosecution also asked David Baker, A&A Bail Bonding operation manager, about Jones’ lapses while he was out on a bond. Baker testified Jones repeatedly forgot to charge his alcohol and GPS monitors. He said the alcohol monitor also detected alcohol consumption, which is against the terms of his bond.
The Raheem Jones murder trial has moved on to the punishment phase. The prosecution and defense will present character witnesses today for jurors to consider when deciding Jones sentence. pic.twitter.com/T7gyotpvHE— Samantha Douty (@SamanthaDouty) October 1, 2019
Despite the incidents, Hampton said she didn’t want to testify against Jones.
“I want (the jury) to know that at the end of the day, (Jones) is not a bad person,” she said during the defense’s cross-examination. “He’s not a bad person despite what anyone says.”
She said she wants Jones to be a part of her daughter’s life and hopes the jury won’t pass a long sentence.
Hatley discussed Jones’ role in the Port Lavaca community, and Hampton said he was a leader to the students of Calhoun High School on and off the football field.
Wilkinson came back to Hampton and asked about Jones’ drug use: “Are those the qualities of a leader you were talking about?”
The four defense witnesses agreed with Hampton and said Jones was a leader with a kind heart.
Jones’ mother, Amy Beckner, testified for the defense and said Jones was a great kid and never got in trouble. He lived with family friends because she worked so much, and he has a solid moral foundation, she said.
Hatley said in his opening statement that Jones is loved even today and that there are “nuggets of information that show what’s in his heart.”
Jones’ high school friend, Jesse Mendoza, testified that Jones always had a smile on his face and people were compelled to follow his lead.
“He was like a brother. I could tell him anything,” Mendoza testified. “I know if I needed anything, he’d give me the shirt off his back.”