The man accused of killing his 2-year-old stepson and discarding the toddler's body in a dumpster took the witness stand Thursday, declaring his innocence and holding firm to his alibi that little Jahi Turner walked away -- or was kidnapped -- from a park in Golden Hill.
The defendant's former wife, who was Jahi's mother, bolted from the courtroom in disgust mid-way though Tieray Jones' testimony. She was overheard in the courtroom hallway calling Jones a liar.
Jones' testimony came on the what was supposed to be the last day of his trial. Defense attorney Courtney Cutter had not previously revealed that Jones would be testifying.
Cutter immediately gave her client the opportunity to deny that he murdered his stepson in April, 2002.
"Did you kill Jahi Turner," defense attorney Courtney Cutter asked Jones.
"Absolutely not," Jones told the jury.
For the next five hours, Jones defended his actions in the days leading to Jahi's disappearance.
He cried and sobbed as he proclaimed his love for his stepson and former wife, Tameka Jones.
Tieray Jones said he never hurt Jahi, and that an accidental fall that Jones described in his journal did not seriously injure the boy, who was left in his care while Tameka Jones was on a training exercise with the Navy.
Tieray Jones also offered an explanation for why he didn't immediately call police when he realized his son was missing from the park.
Jones told the jury he first tried to follow a woman who he'd seen at the park, hoping Jahi had gone off with her.
He also tired to phone Tameka Jones onboard her ship, hoping she would contact police for him.
Jones said he didn't call police himself because there was a warrant out for his arrest, and he didn't want to go to jail.
But Jones said he eventually changed his mind, and called 911 because he knew he needed help from police to find Jahi.
Jones will continue his testimony Friday and will face an intense cross-examination by prosecutors Nicole Rooney and Bill Mitchell.
Tameka Jones is expected to take the stand after Jones' testimony.
She will appear as a prosecution witness and is expected to strongly rebut her former husband's testimony.