Trial begins in slaying of Hephzibah educator

The trial began Monday for the man accused of killing Danny L. Jones, a Hephzibah teacher and former headmaster of Edmund Burke Academy.

Paul F. Blevins, 57, has pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to charges that include murder, armed robbery and arson.

Mr. Jones, 62, was found beaten to death in the yard of his Tobacco Road home April 5, 2007. He had been an educator for more than 30 years.

Not long after firefighters and sheriff's officers arrived at Mr. Jones' burning home, an investigator learned that Mr. Jones' black Ford truck was missing. He put out a call to all officers and got a call back immediately, Assistant District Attorney Johnny Markwalter told the jury in his opening statement.

An officer had pulled over the driver of a black Ford truck for drunken driving. The driver was Mr. Blevins, and he was covered in blood. In his pockets, officers found the victim's keys and watch. Mr. Blevins had tried to pawn the watch just before the traffic stop, the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Jean Colohan, of the public defender's office, told the jury that Mr. Blevins had lied to sheriff's investigators when he told them that Mr. Jones let him borrow the truck. Mr. Blevins was intoxicated that afternoon when he walked into Mr. Jones' yard and found him dead, Ms. Colohan said.

"He does something incredibly stupid," she said.

Mr. Blevins went though the victim's pockets, taking his cash, keys and watch. He then took Mr. Jones' truck, she said.

Mr. Jones' sisters testified about his daily routine and habits. They said that they knew where Mr. Jones kept his 12-gauge shotgun and power tools and it wasn't in the bed of his pickup. The objects were found in the truck after Mr. Blevins' traffic stop.

Testimony continues at 9 a.m. today in Courtroom 1 at the Municipal Building.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.