DuPage judge denies motion to toss evidence in dark web murder-for-hire trial
In the hours before being arrested and charged, Tina Jones, the former Loyola University Medical Center nurse accused of using the dark web to hire a hitman to kill her former lover's wife, allegedly made several self-incriminating statements.
DuPage County Judge George Bakalis, in a four-page written decision, Thursday denied Jones' motion to have those statements and other evidence suppressed before her trial.
In the motion, her attorney, Stephen Hall, argued that Jones had invoked her right to counsel during an interview with Woodridge Police Detective Daniel Murray at the police station, and that statements made during the interview should not be allowed at trial.
Jones, 32, formerly of the 700 block of River Road in Des Plaines, is charged with four counts of solicitation of murder for hire, two counts of solicitation of murder and attempted first-degree murder.
All charges against Jones are Class X felonies, meaning she will not be eligible for probation if found guilty. She faces a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious offense.
Murray testified during an earlier hearing and excerpts of the taped interview were played at that time.
Approximately 10 minutes after arriving voluntarily at the Woodridge Police Department, Jones answers "I did." when Murray asked if she had "done something bad."
"The initial question becomes whether this statement by the defendant changed the situation from a noncustodial to a custodial setting. The court believes it does not," Bakalis wrote. "(Jones) arrived on her own, only one officer was involved, she had been advised she was not under arrest and free to leave and her response does not admit to a criminal act."
When Murray asked what she had done, however, Jones said she logged into a dark web site and paid almost $11,000 in bitcoin to have her former lover's wife killed. Jones then asked "Do I need to get a lawyer or something like that?"
Hall, in his motion, contends that statement invoked Jones' right to counsel.
"The court must first consider whether (Jones) was in custody at the point this statement was made. Although she is later told that she is still free to leave, she had just admitted to acts indicating solicitation to commit murder," Bakalis wrote. "The court finds that she was in custody at this point. The next question is whether this statement constitutes a request for counsel. The court does not believe that it does."
Jones then signed a waiver indicating she understood her Miranda rights and made no further mention of an attorney until Murray told her laptop would be seized.
"At this point in the interview, police had sufficient information to establish probable cause to obtain a search warrant to seize and search (Jones') laptop," Bakalis wrote.
Prosecutors say Jones paid more than $10,000 in bitcoin to the company in January to kill a Woodridge woman who works as a clinical social worker in Naperville.
The Cosa Nostra International Network, however, was deemed to be a scam. The CBS program "48 Hours" discovered the contract between Jones and the website while researching another story and alerted Woodridge police, authorities said.
In her "kill order," officials said Jones gave the hitman clear instructions to make sure her lover was unharmed and provided a schedule for when he would be at work and when the woman would be alone. She also said to make it look like an accident.
The victim's husband is a practicing anesthesiologist who completed his residency at Loyola and is still based in Maywood.
Jones's next court date is scheduled for Dec. 18.