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Murder case to go to trial: Adkins turns down plea offer

A woman accused of murdering her ex has turned down a plea offer and her case will go to trial on Dec. 16.

Belinda S. 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.

She has not pleaded guilty to charges of murder and aggravated murder.

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took the case back to the grand jury and it found there was enough evidence for Adkins’ original indictment to be superceded with a single count of aggravated murder.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.

On Nov. 27, in a pretrial hearing in the Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Andy Ballard, she turned down an offer of 23 years in prison before she could apply for parole.

“Last week was her final offer, which was plead guilty to the aggravated murder,” explained Anderson. “And if she plead, we would recommend parole after 23 years. She declined that offer, so we are set for trial on Dec. 16. It will last about a week.”

He said that the maximum penalty for aggravated murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole. The aggravated murder charge is an unclassified felony, which gives the judge wide latitude when it comes to sentencing.

Adkins is represented by attorney of Roger Smith, of Huntington, West Virginia.

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.