Hilliard Northwest News

Jones charged with murder of livery driver

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Brian Lee Jones, 41, was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, March 12, after being charged with killing a livery driver.

The body of 49-year-old Paul D. Devitt was discovered Feb. 4 under a trailer in the Hayden Heights mobile-park home in Washington Township.

Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott on March 11 said detectives had the evidence needed to charge Jones, whose last known address was in Hilliard, with the murder of Devitt, a Prairie Township resident.

Jones has been in custody at the Franklin County Jail since he was arrested Feb. 6 on charges of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and theft, a fourth-degree felony, after he was found in possession of Devitt's missing 2007 Chevrolet Suburban. Charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery have been added.

"The detectives interviewed (Jones), and he made statements that have been determined not to be truthful," Scott said. "Our investigation determined that (Jones) provided false statemements, and all our follow-up interviews led us back to same place ... that Jones is solely responsible for the robbery and murder (of Devitt)."

The sheriff's office received multiple 911 calls about 7:40 p.m. Feb. 4, reporting a body outside and under a trailer at the Hayden Heights mobile-home park, 5501 Cosgray Road, in Washington Township. The body later was determined to be Devitt's.

Devitt operated his own car service, Black Car of Columbus. Devitt's vehicle, keys, wallet and cellphone were stolen.

Columbus police were searching for the vehicle and discovered Devitt's Suburban about 1 a.m. Friday, Feb. 7, in the parking lot of America's Best Value Inn, 1313 St. James Lutheran Way, near the Hilliard-Rome Road and Interstate 70 interchange, according to Columbus police Sgt. Richard Weiner. The vehicle was found about two miles from Devitt's home and about 10 miles from the suspected murder scene.

Scott said Devitt and Jones likely were acquainted.

"We think they knew each other," he said. "They weren't friends, but I think (Devitt) had helped (Jones) in the past. Devitt was a good person who was trying to help."

After the March 12 arraignment in municipal court, the charges will be sent to a Franklin County grand jury to consider an indictment. Then the case would move to the common-pleas court.

Scott said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien would determine whether the case warrants a death-penalty specification.

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