GATE CITY — A Lee County man was sentenced to more than a dozen years in prison this week after being convicted in 2010 of hatching two separate plots to have his grandparents murdered.
Authorities said one of the attempts, which was carried out with two other previously sentenced co-defendants, involved stealing the couple’s belongings in order to sell them.
Christopher Wayne Jones, 22, of Jonesville, was given an overall sentence of 49 years in prison with 35 years suspended. In addition to incarceration, Jones was also given 13 years of supervised probation, another 20 years of unsupervised probation and five years of highway cleanup work.
Jones, who had just turned 18 prior to his arrest, pleaded guilty in February 2010 to six felonies, including two counts each of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and solicitation of first-degree murder.
He has been incarcerated at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield since his September 2009 arrest and will receive credit for time served.
Scott County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marcus McClung said he hoped Jones’ sentence would bring some closure to the victims.
“It is my hope and prayer that the victims in this case will be able to finally move on now,” McClung said. “They have taken this particularly hard, and reasonably so. When you’re the potential victim of a violent crime, and when that defendant is your grandson, the emotions and everything associated with that can be overwhelming.”
McClung said several factors, including Jones’ willingness to testify against others charged in the robbery-murder plot, played into the nearly four-year duration of the case.
Jones was the last of the three co-defendants to be sentenced for the September 2009 plot to kill and rob his grandparents at their home in Duffield.
Donovan Ray Meade — who carried the gun the night of the incident — pleaded guilty in June 2010 to two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and one count each of conspiracy to break and enter an occupied dwelling and attempted grand larceny.
Jones’ then-girlfriend, Taylor Renee Gilmer, 23, of Jonesville, was given a 25-year sentence with 19 years suspended after she entered Alford, or no contest, pleas to a single count of conspiring to commit a felony and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Authorities said the trio hatched a plot to murder Jones’ grandparents and steal belongings from their home. Once they were at the residence, Meade reportedly made two unsuccessful attempts to enter before trying to steal a parked car outside.
The teenagers fled after Jones’ grandfather come out of the house and fired a warning shot over their vehicle. They were arrested a short time later by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office.
Jones admitted in court to planning the act, but contended he did so at the request of Gilmer due to the infatuation he felt for her at the time.
Authorities have also said Gilmer played an active role in planning the crime and recruiting Meade to help carry it out.
The solicitation of murder charges Jones pleaded guilty to were connected to a separate attempt to have his grandparents killed that took place in 2009.
Jones, who was being held at the Duffield Regional Jail following his arrest for the earlier robbery-murder plan, was charged after he tried to hire another inmate to murder his grandparents.
Authorities said Jones was unaware the inmate was wearing a wire when the approach was made.