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Appeals court upholds Washington Co. woman's conviction in landlord beating

Becky Campbell • Jul 16, 2014 at 2:28 PM

A former Washington County woman, convicted two years ago for the 2005 beating and robbing of her landlord, lost an appeal in the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Christina Lee Jones, formerly Christina Thomas, is serving two 18-year sentences for convictions of especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping.

Jones, now 34, appealed her conviction on claims that she had not abandoned her rental property, so therefore a search of the residence was illegal. She also claimed that evidence presented at trial was insufficient for a conviction.

The appellate court denied both claims and said the convictions and sentences will stand. Her attorney, Matt Bolton, has already said he will seek permission from the Tennessee Supreme Court to appeal the ruling.

The case stems from the April 9, 2005, beating and robbery by Jones of her and her former husband’s landlord, Donald Teague. Teague testified he went to the trailer the couple rented from him after Jones asked him to come get the rent money.

Jones’ husband at the time, James Steven Thomas, was also there when Teague arrived. Jones had asked Teague if he could cash their income tax return check for them so they could pay him the rent. When Teague put his wallet up after counting out the money, he was attacked.

Both Jones and Thomas participated in the beating, and it was Jones who took Teague’s wallet out of his pocket and got money out. After Teague was beaten, bloody and tied up, the couple left.

Jones’ daughter, 15 years old at the time of the trial in 2012, testified that she and her siblings were in the car outside the trailer and had been told they were moving to Arkansas.

The girl testified that she saw her mother and stepfather run out of the trailer, get into the car and wipe blood off their hands before shooting up drugs with a needle. She also said her mother and Thomas took money from Teague’s wallet and threw the wallet and his keys out the window.

Several hours later, Jones and Thomas dropped the three children off at a bar and left. They also abandoned their vehicle and were test driving a truck to buy from a friend when law enforcement spotted them.

They fled and were able to get away. The couple ended up being arrested in Colorado a few weeks later.

Steve Thomas pleaded guilty in November 2010 to aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Christina Thomas was slated to plead guilty to the same reduced charges that day as well, but Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp refused to accept the plea after she hesitated when he asked if she was satisfied with what her attorney — Jim Beeler at the time — had done for her case.

Jones is serving her sentenced at the Mark H. Luttrell Correctional Center in Memphis.

Follow Becky Campbell on Twitter @CampbellinCourt. Like her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BeckyCampbellJCPress.

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