Jury: Jon Thomas Ford guilty in Alamo Heights murder trial

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by KENS 5 Staff

kens5.com

Posted on February 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 24 at 7:30 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- Jurors have decided the fate of a local man accused of a brutal murder.

Prosecutors proved that Jon Thomas Ford strangled his former Alamo Heights girlfriend, 32-year-old Dana Clair Edwards, in 2009.

The verdict was delivered just before noon Friday.

Experts testified that Edwards died from strangulation and blunt force trauma. She was found inside her condo on Jan. 1, 2009 by her parents, who couldn't reach her on the telephone.

One year later, Ford was arrested and charged with the murder after police said they found Ford's DNA at the scene.

At court, the victim's parents testified about the day they found their daughter's body.

"We both had gotten in bed, and we looked at each other and said, 'Something's wrong,'" Deborah Edwards testified.

A letter from Ford to Edwards presented at the trial showed Ford suffered from a broken heart after the two parted ways. In it he wrote of agonizing over the breakup and wanting her back.

Ford said after a New Year's Eve party, where both he and Edwards were in attendance, he went to bed early.

But, prosecutors said that Ford's cell phone records showed he was in the area at the time of the murder.

During the second day of testimony, prosecutors used defendant Jon Thomas Ford's buddies to poke holes in his alibi that he was home alone at the time of the murder.

Alan Tarver and Melissa Federspill both told the jury that they went by Ford's home to drop off a cooler of beer Ford had left behind. Only they couldn't find Ford's SUV in the parking lot.  Their friendship became a casualty.

"I stopped talking to him, or stopped calling, or stopped reaching out to him because of the differences of what he had said and what I had seen," said Tarver. "I just wasn't comfortable continuing to talk about it, so I just stopped."

Federspill says Edwards had confided in her that she had misgivings about her ex-boyfriend in the months after their breakup.

High-profile defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said the evidence against his client was purely circumstantial, including the DNA evidence said to have been found on a bloody towel at Edwards' apartment. He said that DNA could have been left behind when Ford was living with the victim before their breakup.

The defense argued that sloppy police work left a lot of doubt, calling to the stand their own DNA specialist.

“To have an analyst's DNA show up in a result in greater abundance than evidentiary material, in my opinion, diminishes the significance,” said DNA analyst Dr. Elizabeth Johnson. 

Johnson also said that even though Ford’s DNA should have been ruled out the result was shown to be inconclusive.

“It’s very conclusive. It very conclusively excludes Mr. Ford, yet it was worded as inconclusive,” said Johnson. 

On the stand, other friends testified that Ford had a peaceful disposition and never lost his temper.

But, it appears the jury wasn't buying it.

Early Friday evening, Ford was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his crime. His attorney requested that Ford be allowed to stay in the Bexar County Jail for at least two weeks until paperwork for his appeal is completed.

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