Settlement reached in Quran Jones trial

Quran Jones sits in the Sacramento Superior Court during a hearing in October.

Quran Jones sits in the Sacramento Superior Court during a hearing in October.

Brett Johnson

After more than 30 hearings and four rescheduled trial start dates, District Attorney Jan Scully announced a negotiated settlement Thursday in the prosecution of former Sacramento State student Quran Jones, who was accused of murdering Scott Hawkins.

Jones held a “dual plea” – not guilty by reason of insanity for the murder of Hawkins and guilty for several charges of assault on police officers. Included in the agreement is a sentence of confinement to a state mental hospital on murder charges, and a term of 18 years, along with an additional four months for the remaining charges.

Jones was on trial for the murder of Hawkins, his former roommate, with a baseball bat at their American River Courtyard suite at Sac State on Oct. 21, 2009.

When University Police responded to the scene, an officer reported Jones was wielding a knife. When Jones reportedly advanced toward the officers, they responded by firing – leaving him paralyzed below the waist.

An investigation revealed Jones had been acting strangely in the days leading up to the incident: Playing five different songs simultaneously at a high volume, watching several YouTube videos at the same time and staying up all hours of the night, according to a report released by the office of the district attorney.

Two court-appointed doctors conducted psychiatric evaluations concluding Jones was suffering from schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder at the time of the homicide. The evaluations were supported by an expert retained by the defense, meaning he would likely be considered legally insane by the court.

A blood test found Jones was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the time of the incident.

The settlement comes as a result of the difficulties the prosecution faced in arguing against the insanity findings in both of the psychiatric evaluations and the absence of evidence Jones had some motive or criminal intent when he murdered Hawkins, according to the district attorney’s report.

The sentence for Jones’ crime is a minimum of 180 days in a state mental hospital. After that, he may apply to be released from the program. If he is found to have recovered his sanity, he will be transferred to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation where he will serve the remainder of his 18 year, four month sentence.

The official sentencing will take place on May 15 at the Sacramento County Courthouse.

Spencer Dirrim, former roommate of Jones and Hawkins, said the trial has been on hold for two and a half years and he has spent six months waiting to be called as a witness.

“You never forget your roommate murdering your other roommate, but it’s not going to be a part of my life any more,” Dirrim said.

Dirrim said he feels terrible for what happened to the Hawkins family.

“The only justice would be if we could have our son back and he hadn’t had to suffer all the things he had suffered,” Gerald Hawkins said to The Sacramento Bee. “But as far as what the criminal justice system can do, I think the outcome was reasonable and fair.”

Kim Nava, spokeswoman for Sac State, said the settlement brings some closure, but the sadness remains.

“This closes the chapter on a really tragic event,” Nava said. “The family of Scott Hawkins is in our thoughts.”

Brett Johnson can be reached at [email protected].