ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of a Prince George’s County man who said his confession should have been thrown out since he was on drugs when he made it.
The court Wednesday dismissed Thomas Wayne Jones’ claims, finding that he “was not so mentally impaired from drug use at the time he made his statement so as to render his confession involuntary.”
Jones was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and robbery with a deadly weapon, among other crimes, in the August 1993 shooting of District Heights resident Gary Gulston.
According to court documents, the hooded thieves entered Gulston’s house and tied up his sister, her young son and another man, Jamal Johnson, with a phone cord. They then forced Gulston to lead them to his mother’s house nearby.
After they looted the mother’s house of money and valuables, the thieves shot Gulston execution-style, with a pillow covering his head, and left him to die. They returned to Gulston’s house, where they shot and killed Johnson.
Jones was convicted in December 1996 and sentenced to life in jail without the possibility of parole.
Jones’ attorneys argued that their client’s confession should be thrown out because it was given to police when he was high on PCP and marijuana. They said police should have known Jones was high at the time because of his violent and erratic behavior — including an attempted escape through a holding room ceiling panel.
Jones, who injured himself during the escape attempt, was taken to a hospital the morning after his arrest. The state argued that he was clearly sober after the hospital visit, when he was questioned a second time and again agreed to a confession.
The defense also accused detectives in the case of forcing a statement, saying Jones confessed only after being offered leniency by Prince George’s County Police Detective Brian Hickey.
The court rejected that claim as well, believing the detective’s assertion that he had promised Jones nothing but perhaps relief if he told the truth.
Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Landis, who argued for the state, called it a straightforward legal case, but said she was pleased by the court’s ruling.
A call to Jones’ attorney was not returned.