Flint teen convicted in 2010 murder of Merlyne Wray - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flint teen convicted in 2010 murder of Merlyne Wray

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(11/01/13) - A jury has convicted 17-year-old Mark Jones Jr. in the November 2010 murder of 73-year-old Merlyne Wray.

The verdict was reached late Friday afternoon, about five hours after jurors began deliberating.

Jones, who was 14 at the time of Wray's murder and charged as an adult, was found guilty of murder and five other felony counts - armed robbery, carjacking, home invasion or entering a home without permission, carrying a concealed weapon and felony firearm.

"It's been a long road. It's been a roller coaster ride. We're just relieved it's over," said Wray's daughter Stacey Wray. "We can actually start our grieving process now. We haven't been able to do that." 

During closing arguments Friday morning, Genesee County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrea Legendre stressed Jones confessed to killing and robbing Wray.

"'I knocked on the door. She opened the door. I told her it was an emergency. She grabbed the phone. I shot her and she just laid there. I checked the house. I grabbed the keys and then I left.' Those were the words of the cold blooded murderer who killed Merlyne Wray," Legendre said.

Jones' attorney, Major White, has long argued the confession should be inadmissible because of his client's age, background, he wasn't able to speak with his parents and also police conduct.

It was allowed at trial.

During the trial, prosecutors also brought in two other elderly people they allege Jones victimized to show a pattern of him preying.

Prosecutors said investigators found Jones' hand print on Wray's car.

White doesn't deny Jones had problems, but told jurors the physical evidence doesn't point to Jones.

"Not by any stretch of the imagination, so don't let the prosecutor sit and say we've got everything pointing toward him. You don't. You have nothing pointing toward him," White said.  "Somebody has got to pay for this. The problem we have in this case is the prosecutor is asking the wrong young man to pay."

A teenager originally arrested in the case has pleaded to an accessory charge. He didn't testify during trial, but his previous testimony was allowed as evidence.

Jones is the youngest person Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton has charged with murder.  A press release from his office indicates a hearing will need to be held on sentencing in light of last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling which declared mandatory life in prison without parole for juveniles unconstitutional. A sentencing date has been scheduled for Dec. 9.

Wray's body was found, a day after police believe she was shot and killed, by her son-in-law. She was in her recliner and had one bullet wound in her back. Wray's vehicle and other items including her wallet and cell phone were missing.

Around the same time she was discovered, others were calling 911 about suspicious activity around a vacant home on Raskob near Ballenger and Flushing in Flint, according to the press release. 

When police responded to those calls, they discovered Wray's vehicle. Further investigation led them to Jones, who was hiding at a relative's house, according to the press release.

"Lock your doors. Watch what's happening.  Don't answer your door if you don't know who it is and just be very, very careful," warned Wray's daughter, Stacey. 

Family members thanked the community for their support and for the people who called 911 after spotting Wray's stolen car.

Online court records show Jones still faces trial in a separate case for two charges tied to his escape from custody June 2012. He was arrested about one week later.    

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