Stepfather to Be Tried in 2002 Missing Child Cold Case

After a week of testimony from witnesses and investigators, a San Diego judge ruled Friday that Jahi Turner's stepfather will be tried in the toddler's shocking disappearance 14 years ago.

The two-year-old boy was reported missing from a South Park playground in April 2002. His body or remains have never been found.

Now, Jahi's stepfather, Tieray Jones, will be tried on charges of murder and the infliction of child abuse resulting in death. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life on each charge.

Prosecutors called various witnesses who testified as to what they saw in the playground area of the park at 28th and Beech on April 25, 2002.

Jones called 911 on that day to report that his stepson vanished after he had stepped away to purchase a soda from a park vending machine.

Through the testimony of several witnesses and investigators, prosecutors have attempted to show how Jones' story changed throughout the day. Details including whether he had brought the child's cup to the park and what time he and his stepson had left their apartment that morning varied according to some testimony.

Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney said inconsistencies in the defendant’s story “indicate that something terrible happened to Jahi Turner in that apartment.”

“Nobody ever saw Jahi Turner alive after Monday April 22, 2002,” Rooney said. “We had numerous witnesses in the complex, at the park all around town who saw the defendant and who saw the defendant without Jahi Turner.”

Jones' attorneys told NBC 7 they did not hear a "smoking gun" in the prosecution's case.

Defense attorneys Alex Ozols and Vik Monder said the only new evidence presented by the prosecutors this week was a controlled phone call recorded in March 2015. They say all other evidence was available to investigators and prosecutors in 2002.

They also pointed out that police found no physical evidence in Jones' military housing apartment.

They say their client has professed his innocence since the beginning.

The 911 call and a recorded interview with San Diego Police were entered into evidence Wednesday. Prosecutors also played a controlled phone call between Jahi's mother Tameka Jones and Tieray Jones that police coordinated in 2015.

Jones entered not guilty pleas following his March 2016 arrest. He was the last person to see Jahi Turner alive before the two-year-old boy was reported missing.

Hundreds of volunteers and police officers spent weeks looking for Jahi near the playground. Law enforcement officers raked through 5,000 tons of garbage at the Miramar Landfill, but came up with nothing.

Jahi's mother was deployed with USS Rushmore the day her son was reported missing.

  • Listen to the full 911 call here.
  • Watch the recorded police interview with Jones here.
  • Click here to read the search warrant.

[G] Photos of 2-Year-Old Jahi Turner, Missing Since 2002

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