Widow of murder victim takes the stand in death penalty trial

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - There was emotional testimony Wednesday in the murder trial against Victor Gantt as the wife of the murder victim took the stand.

Gantt is accused of killing Leroy Jones, 75, of Middletown. The prosecution says Gantt killed Jones by hitting him several times with an axe after breaking into his home.

"When I opened the door, I opened the door to hell," said Betty Jones on the stand, recalling the events of that night. "That is exactly the way it was, it was hell. And I started screaming for my husband because of what I saw."

What Betty Jones saw when she arrived home on the afternoon of May 2nd, 2011 was her home, ransacked.

"All the drawers were pulled out everything was trashed. Then I heard water running and I looked and the water in the tub was running over so I ran in and turned that off," she said.

Jones says she kept yelling for her husband, but heard no answer.

"I thought someone had taken him."

But that wasn't the case.

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser says Gantt, armed with an axe, hit Jones first across the face, disabling Jones and knocking him backward. He then struck Jones directly on the top of the head.

Gmoser claims Gantt stayed at the Jones house for nearly and hour and a half after the murder, ransacking the home and looking for money. Gmoser says Gantt even watched a pornographic DVD he brought with him, then watched more porn.

"He dials up Time Warner Cable on their phone and order some more hardcore," said the prosecutor.

Gmoser claims Gantt then covered Jones' body with miscellaneous things from around the house, and was planning to leave clothes on the stove-top burners to cause a fire in order to cover up the crime.

The defense claims Gantt confessed to every part of the crime, but he did not attempt to get away with it and admitted his guilt immediately.

"This is not about his guilt or innocence. At the end of the day this is about the punishment that's appropriate," said Defense Attorney Dennis Adams.

Gantt is facing the death penalty for his crimes.

The trial resumes Thursday morning at 9:00 am.

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