A man charged in the January slayings of his girlfriend and an Aiken police officer was involuntarily committed to a state mental health facility for two weeks after harming himself in jail.
Joshua T. Jones, 26, is charged with murder and possession of weapon in the Jan. 28 killing of Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers.He also is accused by Richmond County authorities in the shooting death of 21-year-old Cayce Vice, who was pregnant.
Jones is in the Aiken County Detention Center, where he was taken after police tracked him down at the home of a cousin in Batesburg, S.C., a few hours after the killings.
On Feb. 28, Jones was taken to the South Carolina Just Care mental health facility in Columbia after an emergency involuntary committal hearing in Aiken County Probate Court, according to Aiken County sheriff’s Capt. Nick Gallam.
“Our medical staff evaluated him and saw there was a need,” Gallam said. “We got with the state mental health officials and proceeded from there.”
Gallam said Jones returned to the detention center March 13 but declined to discuss specifics of Jones’ mental health or any treatments he received.
James Jones, the suspect’s father, said his son was committed because he harmed himself while in jail.
Jones said his son chewed into his own wrists so badly that he needed medical treatment.
“That’s the information I received,” Jones said, adding that he was not allowed to see his son’s injuries. “I never did see his wrists; they never did let us get that close to him.”
One of Joshua Jones’ court-appointed
attorneys, Boyd Young, of Columbia, said the damage to his client’s wrists was extensive. Young said the injuries happened while Jones was isolated from the other inmates in a cell on “suicide watch.” He said there was nothing in the cell that Jones could have harmed himself with.
“He was only wearing a paper gown,” Young said.
Young said his client was committed to the state facility for 13 days, and then there was another hearing that extended his stay for a day or two.
Jones has hurt himself at least one other time, authorities said. On June 1, he tried to shoot himself in the head but the bullet only grazed his temple, according to an Aiken County sheriff’s report.
James Jones said his son was treated at Aiken Regional Medical Centers and transferred to Aurora Pavilion Behavioral Health Services, but released after less than a month.
Gallam would not comment on the extent of Jones’ injuries, citing jail policy and federal privacy laws. He said Jones has been doing better since his return from Columbia but has remained separated from the other inmates for disciplinary reasons.
“He’s been on disciplinary segregation from the first day he was here,” Gallam said.
Jones has been cited for six “serious infractions” of jail rules and has had continued problems following directions and obeying rules, he said.
Jones’ only public appearance since his arrest has been a brief bond hearing on the weapons charge before Magistrate Judge Donna Williamson.
Jones snarled and cursed while two jailers held him at each elbow during the Jan. 30 hearing.
Young said it was too early to say whether he and public defender Grant Gibbons would pursue a mental health defense. He also said there would be no request for bond on the murder charge.
In the unlikely circumstance that an Aiken County judge set a bond for his client, Young said, there would still be a hold placed on him to face murder charges in Richmond County.