KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas bail bondsman was sentenced to life in prison Monday for killing his 7-year-old son, who authorities say endured abuse and starvation before his remains were fed to pigs on the family's rental property.
Under the sentence, Michael Jones, 46, won't be eligible for parole for at least 25 years. He pleaded guilty in March to first-degree murder in the 2015 death of Adrian Jones.
Michael Jones turned his chair away from Adrian's grandmother, mother and older sister, never making eye contact as they addressed the judge. They excoriated him during the sentencing hearing for a slaying authorities described as horrific, even haunting.
"You do not deserve a second chance," Keiona Doctor, the late boy's 21-year-old sister, told Michael Jones, who declined the judge's offer to make a statement. "You do not deserve sunlight as a free man."
The judge ordered Jones to spend the rest of his life on parole if he is ever released from prison. His attorney did not object in court Monday to the life sentence prosecutors sought.
The boy's stepmother, 31-year-old Heather Jones, pleaded guilty to the same charge in November and is serving a life sentence. She insisted that she felt helpless to protect Adrian and herself from her abusive husband, but investigators said she also abused the boy, drawing an additional five years and eight months in prison for that.
Adrian died in September or October 2015, but his death wasn't reported to authorities. His remains were found that November on the family's Kansas City, Kansas, rental property after officers learned the boy was missing while they were responding to a report that Michael Jones had attacked his wife at their home.
When the charges were filed, Wyandotte County's district attorney at the time, Jerry Gorman, said it was one the worst cases investigators had seen.
During Monday's hearing, a police investigator — Detective Stuart Littlefield — confirmed publicly for the first time that "what was left of (Adrian's body) was fed to his pigs." Often choking back tears, Littlefield asked for a 20-second moment of silence, reflecting the length of time Adrian at one point was shocked by a stun gun during his "tortured young life."
Adrian's biological mother, Dainna Pearce, lost custody of him and two of his siblings years ago. Her mother, Judy Conway, said last week that she finally brought herself to look at videos and digital photos from the Jones' home that showed the abuse Adrian suffered in his life's waning months, much of it chronicled by more than 30 security cameras set up throughout the home.
Conway said the Joneses kept Adrian naked in a shower stall and modified it so that he couldn't get out. She said they sometimes strapped her grandson to an inversion table and that they made him stand in a swimming pool overnight, up to his neck in stagnant water. Conway said the videos and photos show that Heather Jones sometimes beat Adrian with the end of a broom handle and kept alarms on the family's food so that he couldn't take any when he was hungry.
"There's no getting over it. There's no fix, there's no solution to our heartache. There is no glue for our broken hearts, no remedy for our pain," Conway told Michael Jones in court Monday.
"I pray you have a long, tortured life in prison," added Pearce, Adrian's mother. "I don't know if I can forgive you, but I know you should suffer for what you did."
The Kansas Department for Children and Families' chief, Phyllis Gilmore, said in a statement Friday that the agency "thoroughly investigated" each reported incident of alleged abuse or neglect involving Adrian, though she did not divulge the number of cases or their context.
Gilmore added that although the family's frequently alternating residency between Kansas and Missouri "greatly disrupted continuity of services and evaluation," Kansas child-welfare officials often shared information about Adrian "when known" with their Missouri counterparts.
Gilmore said her agency last had contact with the family in early 2012.
The department's records involving Adrian remain under court-ordered seal, though Gilmore said they will be released if a pending open-records request is granted.