Man accused in murder-for-hire scheme appears in court facing capital charges

Composite image with background photo of 5th District Court in St. George, Utah, August 2019. Inset photo of Kristoffer Jones, 29, of Hurricane, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, March 15, 2019 | Background photo by Cody Blowers; booking photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man implicated in a murder-for-hire scheme appeared in court Thursday where he learned charges filed against him could be tried as capital offenses.

District Judge John J. Walton addresses a defendant during a hearing in 5th District Court, Nov. 21, 2019 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Kristoffer Jones, 29, an inmate at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, appeared in 5th District Court via video during an initial appearance on three first-degree felony counts of criminal solicitation of murder.

The charges stem from an investigation spanning several months after an alleged murder-for-hire scheme came to the attention of deputies assigned to the jail’s Corrections Intelligence Unit. Deputies received information that Jones was allegedly attempting to solicit inmates to kill the witness in the case for which he is currently incarcerated.

During Thursday’s hearing, District Judge John J. Walton confirmed with the defendant that he was facing the three charges and advised Jones that bail in the case will remain at $75,000. Walton also appointed defense attorney Caleb Cottam, who is representing the defendant on another criminal matter, to represent the defendant in the case.

Jones was originally being held without bail on four first-degree felony counts of rape of a child, first-degree sexual abuse of a child and two second-degree felony charges — sodomy of a child and sexual abuse of a child. He was also charged with two third-degree felony counts of failure to register as a sex offender, charges filed subsequent to a monthslong investigation by the St George Police Department that began in January involving a 13-year-old child.

Kristoffer Jones, 29, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The solicitation of murder charges were filed after deputies at the jail allegedly received information involving the defendant’s efforts to “get rid” of the alleged juvenile victim to prevent them from testifying against him in court. He allegedly provided various means by which the witness could be killed. When given the chance to back out, Jones confirmed to an undercover officer that he wanted the hit completed, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the charges.

As the investigation progressed, detectives reported that Jones approached two other individuals with the same request, telling one inmate, “I’m facing 25 to life for rape of a child that I never committed” and he needed the witness to “disappear for good.”

Jones has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2010 when he was charged in Utah County and later convicted of misdemeanor theft charges.

The following year, he was charged in Utah County with one count of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, a third-degree felony. He pleaded guilty to the charge in 2012 and was sentenced to serve 0-5 years in the Utah State Prison.

In 2018, Jones faced charges in four cases involving theft and credit card charges, an endangerment to a child or elder adult charge and a case in which he was charged with failing to register as a sex offender. Earlier this year, the defendant was arrested and charged with one count of sex offender in a protected area and one count of failing to maintain current sex-offender identification.

During a resolution hearing held March 4, Jones was sentenced to serve 100 days in jail for the pending cases. He received credit for 100 days time served and was placed on 36-months probation under the terms of a plea agreement. He was released from jail that same day.

Jones’ stint of freedom would be short-lived. He was arrested 11 days later on the child sexual abuse charges, the case that triggered the alleged murder-for-hire scheme for which he now faces capital charges.

Jones is scheduled to appear in 5th District Court for a roll call hearing Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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