29-year-old Convict To Be Released From Prison After 18 Years

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Curtis Jones, at age 12 was one of the youngest in the country to be convicted of murder. He was released from prison Tuesday, July 28, 2015. He is 29. Photo courtesy from Florida Department of Corrections.

MELBOURNE, Fla., July 28 (UPI) —¬†Curtis Fairchild Jones, who at age 12 was considered the youngest convicted murderer in United States history, walked out of prison today a free man at age 29.

Jones and his 13-year-old sister Catherine admitted in 1999 to killing their father’s girlfriend, Sonya Nicole Speights, with their father’s handgun amid claims they were sexually abused by a male relative living with them. They claimed neither their father nor Speights would help them so they plotted to kill all three. The claims were never substantiated. Prosecutors said the children were jealous of Speights.

At the time, they were the youngest children in the U.S. to be charged as adults for first-degree murder. Instead of spending life in prison, they pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and were sentenced to 18 years and probation for life.

Tuesday morning, Jones left the prison an ordained minister with very little knowledge of the world outside prison walls. In 2004, he did have a small taste of freedom when he and others ran from a juvenile detention center after Hurricane Frances knocked down some fencing. He was caught 24 hours later and sentenced to an additional 318 days.

His sister Catherine is set to be released on Aug. 1. In 2013, she married longtime pen pal Ramous K. Fleming.

Experts say it is likely to be a difficult transition for the siblings, especially Curtis, who will not have the support of a spouse. Florida has a three-phase program to assist assimilation that includes help with basic life skills, from using a cell phone to managing money.

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