Former death row inmate, attorneys hold press conference ‘to correct the narrative’

Elwood Jones was in prison for nearly three decades for the murder of Rhoda Nathan, according to our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 12:39 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 12:43 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX/ENQUIRER) - A former death row inmate who was convicted of a 1994 murder says he did not kill a woman who was staying at a Blue Ash hotel where he was an employee.

Elwood Jones was in prison for nearly three decades for the murder of Rhoda Nathan, according to our media partners at The Cincinnati Enquirer.

“But at the end of the day, I did not kill Ms. Nathan, and no matter what no one says, I did not, and I still say I did not. I’m not a murderer,” Jones said as he spoke out for the first time since he was granted a new trial in December by Hamilton County Court Judge Wende Cross.

Cross said the state withheld evidence in his case.

“The other reason on why we wanted to do this, I suppose, would be to correct the narrative or at least recalibrate it,” Jones’s attorney Jay Clark said.

“For about three decades now, most of the coverage - almost all of the coverage of this case has been through the eyes of the prosecutors and I think it’s sufficient to say that we do not believe that is an accurate lens to view this case through.”

The 70-year-old convict described the whole process as “chilling,” especially since being sentenced to death three times.

“Each day I’d get up, I would go sit in my cell or pull out my typewriter and write a letter to somebody,” Jones said. “I spent a whole 27 years, just asking someone to look at this case. I still have lots of letters left asking them, ‘I’m not saying take my word, but I just want you to look, and you draw your own conclusion.’”

FOX19′s Mike Schell asked Jones what he wrote in the letters.

“I would ask them to help me shed light on justice in Hamilton County,” he said.

During his 27 years in prison, Jones says he spent most of his time sewing quilts for the World Relief Center or writing. As a thank you to those who helped them, he sewed together stuffed animal bears.

As the former inmate awaits his new trial, the best thing since being out of jail has been holding his nieces and nephews, he said with tears in his eyes.

“I’ve got a past, and my past sometimes, makes people look and accuse me of things I didn’t do,” Jones said in reference to stealing history. “But I do not have a past of hurting anyone.”

Jones currently wears an electronic monitoring device and is confined to his home in Finneytown.

He is allowed to leave with permission to go to church, a doctor’s appointment or meet with his attorneys.

Jones’ next trial date is set for Feb. 5, 2024.

His attorneys believe he will receive a not guilty verdict, whether the trial is today or next year.

The case was handled by former Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

“We are reviewing our next steps, procedurally, on this case,” current prosecutor Melissa Powers said in a statement Tuesday.

“However, the comments made by Mr. Jones’ attorneys today were preposterous. For 27 years since Jones’ conviction, every judge reviewing this case - including 19 different state and federal judges - has found these accusations of Brady violations to be baseless.

“The opinion of one trial court judge, operating beyond her authority, does not change that fact.

“I am confident in the character of the assistant prosecutors working in my office and their commitment to seek justice within the bounds of the law.”

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