Woodinville woman pleads guilty in shooting death of her husband
by Jeff Switzer
Bernice Theresa Jones, 56, of Woodinville, pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder in the shooting death of her 55-year-old husband Armstead U. Jones last year.
Prosecutors reduced the charge from first to second-degree murder in exchange for the plea, and will recommend a 12-year sentence at her May 10 sentencing.
The crime carries with it a sentencing range of approximately 10 to 13 years. Previously, Bernice Jones pleaded not guilty Oct. 3 to charges of first-degree murder in the Sept. 29 shooting death of her husband.
The shooting took place at the Jones' residence in the 17100 block of 232nd Ave. NE at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, 1995. Armstead Jones was then airlifted to Harborview Hospital, where he remained in a coma during the weekend and died the following Monday morning as a result of a single gunshot wound to his head.
Had she been convicted of first-degree murder, Bernice Jones could have faced 20 to 26 years in prison. Bernice Jones' statement read: "While I did not intentionally kill my husband, I did assault him and I desire to plead guilty to the offense of murder in the second degree to take advantage of the state's plea offer. I believe that if this matter were to proceed to trial, there is a reasonable likelihood that I would be found guilty of this crime."
The Jones had lived for 10 years in their home on 2.5 acres in Woodinville where they raised three daughters and spent 35 years together as husband and wife. He had just retired as an upper-level manager with the Boeing Company in June. She volunteered in the community, was on the Friends of the Woodinville Library board and was active in the recent library bond campaigns.
However, police found a diary which told the story of a marriage that was recently punctuated by anger, jealousy, and suspicion of adultery.
In some entries, Bernice Jones showed increasing concern and suspicion about Armstead's late nights away from home and fishing trips where, in spite of his skill as a fisherman, no fish were caught.
Bernice Jones discovered that Armstead was in fact having an affair, and the couple entered counseling. By September, Armstead had to make a decision to either stay with Bernice, move in with the woman, or move out on his own. At their noon counseling session on Friday, Sept. 29, the defendant told Bernice he was moving out.
The day before Armstead was shot, Bernice Jones wrote her final entry in the diary:
"Tomorrow is 'THE' day. The finger of fate is slowly moving across my life, leaving tears and sorrow in its wake."