(WMC-TV) - A plea deal offered by prosecutors was rejected Monday by a man who reportedly confessed to killing his wife, a beloved mother and teacher.
Investigators say Chris Jones confessed to the murder of Heather Palumbo-Jones. But he turned down the chance for a 25-year sentence and instead, plans to enter a not guilty plea.
Shortly after entering the courtroom, Chris Jones took the stand to say he was turning down a negotiated settlement offer from prosecutors.
"Because he wants a trial, the offer was 25 years and he doesn't want to do 25 years in prison," said Chief Public Defender Gerald Skahan.
Public defender Gerald Skahan says his client plans to plead not guilty as he turns down the second degree murder settlement prosecutors offered.
"Well, what will happen now... the case will be indicted by a grand jury," said Prosecutor Theresa McCusker.
Investigators arrested Chris Jones in April after his wife's burned body was found wrapped in an air mattress, dumped along Highway 64.
A number of her friends and supporters were in the courtroom Monday.
"But obviously for the family we would have preferred some conclusion today but we have the utmost confidence in the D.A.'s office," said Heather's uncle, John Perry.
Prosecutors say they now expect a grand jury to increase Jones' charges from second degree murder to first degree murder.
In court, the judge told Jones he wanted to make sure he understands the options of a first degree conviction include life in prison, life without parole, or the death penalty.
Meanwhile, Jones' defense attorneys say their client plans to take his chances with a jury.
"The state and the police haven't released all of the facts of this case yet, so we will wait and see what comes out at trial and what a jury will consider," said Skahan.
Chris Jones goes back to court on December 19.
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