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Murder trial delayed until December

The trial of a woman accused of allegedly shooting her ex-husband in January in the parking lot of a South Point restaurant has been delayed until December.

The case against Belinda S. Adkins, 41, of South Point, on a charge of aggravated murder was set to begin next Monday in the Lawrence County Common Pleas Court of Judge Christen Finley, but the judge recused herself because of a conflict of interest.

County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson said because of the recusal, the case was transferred to Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Andy Ballard. It is now set for Dec. 16.

Anderson said he didn’t know why Finley recused herself from the case.

“The (court) entry didn’t state what the conflict was,” he said. “She just had a conflict of interest, so it was transferred.”

He said the delay until December was because that was the first opening Ballard had for the case.

He said delays are not uncommon in cases, especially murder cases.

“That is just the way the system is set up,” Anderson said.

Adkins is accused of shooting Joshua C. Jones multiple times around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the parking lot of the McDonald’s in South Point.  Jones died of his injuries a few hours later at a hospital.

Adkins is still being held in the Lawrence County Jail on $1 million bond.

Adkins has pleaded not guilty. She had pleaded guilty by reason of insanity but a was found competent to stand trial and assist her lawyer, Roger Smith, in her defense.

Adkins was originally initially indicted on a single charge of murder but Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson took the case back to the grand jury and it found there was enough evidence for Adkins’ original indictment to be superceded with a single count of aggravated murder.

Anderson said he wanted to try it as aggravated murder because of the “element of prior calculation and design” by Adkins before she allegedly shot Jones.

The charge is an unclassified felony, which gives the judge wide latitude when it comes to sentencing.

Anderson said his office did not seek death penalty in this case because there were “no aggravating circumstances in this case” that would support a death penalty case.

Under Ohio Revised Code 2929.04, there are specific cases, in which the death penalty can be sought, which includes the murder is committed during a crime or while fleeing a crime, among many other possible offenses.

After the shooting on Jan. 23, Adkins allegedly fled the scene but was identified as the suspected shooter later that day and a murder warrant was issued for her arrest.

Her car was found in Ironton on Jan. 24, but she wasn’t located until Jan. 25 when she went to an acquaintance’s house on Cedar Street in Burlington and asked them to call the sheriff’s office so she could turn herself in. She met the detectives at the end of the house’s driveway and was arrested without incident.

At the time of the shooting, Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said that the shooting was an isolated, domestic violence-related incident.

Anderson said the couple had been married and that Adkins and Jones had at least one child because a week prior to the shooting, they had been in domestic court for a child custody case.