Man guilty of killing girlfriend at Hardee's
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jul 17, 2014, 15:26
HOPEWELL — A 63-year-old Petersburg man was found guilty of murder Tuesday after he turned a handgun on his girlfriend last year in a Hardee’s parking lot.
A jury in Hopewell Circuit Court returned a guilty verdict on a first-degree murder charge for Joseph Green in the murder of Velacita Jones, 39, of the 400 block of Virginia Avenue in Petersburg, and recommended 43 years in prison.
Green shot Jones twice in the parking lot at Hardee’s on Oaklawn Boulevard on July 8 of last year. The shooting was not a random crime but in fact one close to home as Jones was previously the girlfriend of Green.
In court on Monday and Tuesday, their relationship was described to the jury and the events that led Green to pick up a gun and shot his former lover.
The events of that morning in July were laid out by three Hardee’s employees and depict Green coming to the restaurant and an argument that got out of hand.
When Green arrived just prior to 8 a.m., he walked in looking for Jones, wanting to discuss the current state of their relationship. One employee said when he walked in, he asked for Jones. When Jones came out to speak with him, the two had a short conversation inside before going outside.
Once outside, employees testified the conversation quickly turned when they saw Green had Jones by the collar of her shirt and had lifted her up off the ground, raising his voice at her.
Jones had a cell phone in her hand, telling Green to let her go or she would call the police. As she reached for the phone, the employees testified Green reached behind his back and pulled out a gun. “I saw him shoot her once,” said Hardee’s employee Chimere Taylor.
Green was also charged with attempted murder of Eugenia Eppes. Employees testified that after he shot Jones, he pointed his gun and fired a few more shots.
“He shot her twice point blank,” Eppes said. “... He tried to shot me at least four to five times.” Though providing testimony, the jury found Green not guilty of attempted murder of Eppes.
Hopewell Police Officer David Lyons said when he was dispatched to the location of the shooting, he saw a gray SUV leaving the scene with people screaming “That’s him, he went that way.”
Lyons said with the vehicle gone, he immediately began life saving measures on Jones.
Lyons, using napkins from Hardee’s, began applying pressure to the gunshot wounds. He told the court that he asked her what happened but all she was able to utter was “my boyfriend,” before she was no longer able to speak.
A medical examiner testified Jones suffered from two gunshot wounds, which struck her blood vessels and lungs. The examiner determined the cause of death to be related to both those wounds.
Green took the stand and told the court he loved Jones and that his heart belonged to her. Even though in a three-year relationship with Jones, Green testified he was also in a 38-year marriage. Green said their relationship began when they met, “started smoking, drinking, and went out and got a hotel room.”
After a few months in the relationship, the two moved in together in a house in Petersburg. Green also testified he helped take care of her three children, contributed to the household finances, and essentially “lived together as a family.”
Over the course of their relationship, Green’s health began to deteriorate. Green said this was due to the drug use. Green has a prior conviction in Colonial Heights from May 2012 for possession of cocaine.
His health problems landed him in the hospital for two months. Green said Jones came to visit him over his stay, called him and even brought the children to visit. Green went back to the hospital two months later and said during that stay Jones never came to visit, never called and did not return his calls. Upon his release, which was the day of the incident in July of last year, Green wanted to get to the source of the problem.
That morning Green had breakfast with his wife and then drove to the Hardee’s to speak to Jones.
“I said, ‘Baby how you ain’t calling me. What’s going on?” he said. “... She said, ‘I’m not interested in an old man no more.”
Green said the words hurt. Jones also told him “you’re not functional like you used to be,” along with that she could no longer count on him for financial support, and she did not want to wake up next him one morning to find him dead as a result of the continued health issues.
Though upset, Green said as he walked back to the door of his SUV she told him that while he was in the hospital, she had been having an affair with someone else. Jones also told him that she had been having the affair throughout most of their relationship and the person was also a friend of his.
Green said this is when he snapped. He said when he grabbed her, Jones’ coworkers ran out to help. Green said he used Jones as a “human shield” to prevent being hit. That’s when he looked over and saw the handgun under the pedals in the car.
“I wanted to scare people away,” Green said. “I got the gun and it went off.”
He said everyone around him started running, including Jones, then Green said he blanked out. Green came to when he heard the clip from the gun fall to the ground. He said he grabbed the gun, the clip, threw it in the car and started driving away. Green said he ended up at home where he told his wife to take him to the hospital.
Sgt. Donnie Reid with the Hopewell Police Department questioned Green at the hospital. Reid told the court that Green told him that he was at Hardees but did not know anything about the shooting. He told Reid he wanted to tell Jones that it was over, telling her he was tired of the repeated drug use and needed “a new lease on life.”
After just an hour in deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on a charge of first-degree murder, guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a murder, not guilty of attempted murder of Eugenia Eppes, not guilty of use of a firearm in attempted murder and guilty of use of a firearm in a public place.
Before sentencing, Erica Tyler, Jones’ sister, took the stand to speak on how life has changed since Green killed her sister a year ago. Tyler, who spoke through quiet sobs, said she now has custody of Jones’ three children, in addition to raising four of her own.
After speaking to raising seven children, Tyler turned and looked right at Jones. She told him that Jones’ daughter asked her, “My dad killed my mom. Why?”
“You don’t even have a real answer for that,” she said to Green.
During the course of the two-day trial, Green’s wife, Ute Green sat in support of her husband. She also came to the witness stand to testify to his character. She told the jury that the man who shot Jones is not the man who lived with her and fathered their son.
The two met in Germany in 1971 while Green was serving in the Army.
“He is a loving husband. I never had to worry about anything,” she said, also telling the jury she knew about the relationship with Jones and they discussed it at length. “When he got with Jones, that’s when his health started deteriorating.”
With just a 20-minute deliberation for sentencing, the jury recommended a total of 43 years for Green; 37 years for the charge of first-degree murder, three years for use of a firearm in the commission of a murder and three years for use of a firearm in a public place. The formal sentencing for Green will be in August.