Mt. Vernon’s Jones gets plea deal, 15 years in death of Goodman

Steve Chapman

Michael W. Jones

Guilty of brutally beating roommate to death; likely free in 10 years

A former Mt. Vernon resident was sentenced to 15 years in prison after making an Alford Plea in the death of a man with whom he shared a house at the time. Michael W. Jones, 54, who killed Timothy Goodman on Sept. 15, 2016, received the sentence as part of a plea bargain on Wednesday, June 15. As part of the plea bargain, the original charge of first-degree murder was amended to voluntary manslaughter, and the other charges Jones was facing, one count of abandoning a corpse and two counts of attempting to escape from custody, were dismissed.
Jones was sentenced in Newton County, where his case was transferred on a change of venue in February of 2017.
According to the probable cause statement in the case, Goodman’s death was discovered when a Mt. Vernon police officer saw the taillights of a truck in the Spirit of ’76 Park near the northeast open pavilion. The officer approached the vehicle, which appeared to have been abandoned, and found Goodman’s body in the bed of the truck, lying on plastic and displaying extensive injuries consistent with blunt force trauma. The truck was also found to belong to Goodman.
Jones was interviewed on Sept. 17, two days after Goodman’s body was found. He admitted to using Goodman’s truck to drive his body into the park, and he said he ran away into the woods when he saw the police car approaching. The probable cause statement also said that Jones made statements and provided details about the crimes which could have only been known by someone with knowledge of the crime scenes. Witnesses reported they had seen Jones walking around outside of the residence he shared with Goodman, appearing “agitated.”
Jones was also accused of making two attempts to escape while in custody; the first was in September of 2016 when he was first arrested; the second time was on Nov. 27, 2017, when he did escape custody near the Mt. Vernon square but was captured a short time later.
As of press time, it was unclear whether Jones was still in the Newton County Jail or if he had been transferred to the Missouri Department of Corrections. Jones will receive credit for time served since his 2016 arrest.
Family displeased with plea deal
Goodman’s sister, Patty Mann, who lives in Cheyenne, Wyo., said that Jones and Goodman knew each other from working together on a turkey farm. She also said that Goodman chose to let Jones live in his house, rent free, an act of compassion that would ultimately prove fatal. 
Mann said she couldn’t understand why Jones was offered a plea bargain. 
“(The victim’s advocate) told me that they thought he still had some competency issues, and that they wouldn’t win,” she said. “I told her that I knew that he knew exactly what he was doing. His comment to the Highway Patrol … was, ‘Oh, you mean when I beat the (expletive) out of him?’ He admitted to it. He admitted to it right off the bat.” 
Mann was also critical of the prosecutor’s office, stating that she received no advance warning that there would be a plea bargain. 
“I've never talked to a prosecuting attorney,” she said. ‘They didn't warn me that they were going to do a bargain. They didn’t ask me how I felt about them doing a bargain. You know my mom's gone, my dad's gone, and I'm the only family immediate member left, so I thought that they should talk to me.” 
Shari Gilbert, Mann’s daughter and Goodman’s niece, didn’t express an opinion on the plea bargain, instead choosing to focus on her uncle’s memory. 
“He was a kind soul who never (would) have hurt anyone,” she said.
Angi Gilbert, another one of Goodman's nieces, expressed a more impassioned opinion.
"I’m angry," she said. "What they call 'justice' is what I would call corrupt. My family and I have been through so much trying to help build this case and stay informed, just for them to throw it all away for a plea deal. The sentence does not match the crimes, and it’s heart breaking."


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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