PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Text messages between the parents of a 8-year-old boy who was fatally neglected will be used as evidence at the father’s trial, a judge ruled Thursday afternoon.
Peoria County Circuit Judge John Vespa denied a motion by Brandon Walker’s attorney to bar the use of those messages that prosecutors believe show Walker and Stephanie Jones knew Navin Jones was in extremely poor health.
Navin Jones was found unresponsive at his home on North Gale Avenue on March 29, 2022. He weighed 30 pounds when he was found. The room he was in was tied shut. There was urine and feces throughout the room. He had one bed, one dresser, and one toy in the room. There were marks showing alleged abuse, prosecutors have said, on his face, body, arms, and legs.
HIs parents, Walker and Stephanie Jones, both face murder charges for his death. They are alleged to have “withheld medical care and nutrition from Navin Jones,” knowing such acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to the boy, according to authorities.
And that’s where the text messages come in. They are from October 2021 where Walker and Jones are discussing punishment for the little boy. The messages allegedly state Walker wanted to put the boy in the basement as punishment for urinating on the wall.
Other text messages, according to a transcript of grand jury testimony provided by Morris in his motion, seem to indicate Walker knew Navin Jones was losing weight and that he probably needed medical care.
At issue was whether Peoria police officers had the legal authority to use text messages between Walker and Jones as evidence during a grand jury proceeding.
Defense attorney Gary Morris had contended that Peoria police had illegally used the messages because he believed the police had gotten a search warrant after they went to the grand jury.
But prosecutor Donna Cruz pushed back hard, saying Morris’ account was “factually incorrect.”
Morris, after hearing one witness, a Peoria police detective, backed off the motion and didn’t opt to argue his point further. It appears that police obtained two warrants, one before the grand jury met and one after, based upon the officer’s statements.
The case will return to court on Monday where Vespa will review all subpoena issues which have plagued the case in the past few months. Walker will go to trial on Dec. 11, and the judge made it clear again that he didn’t want to move off that day.
If convicted, Walker faces a possible life sentence. Stephanie Jones is set for trial early next year.