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Prosecution lays out evidence it wants to use in Jones murder trial


With less than two months to go before jury selection in the first-degree murder trial of former PNC Wealth Management advisor Michael David Jones, the admissibility of key evidence tracking the movements of Jones and victim Diana Duve is being debated by attorneys.

Credit card receipts, cellphone records, hotel reservations and video surveillance footage from three counties have helped investigators piece together the events of the last days of 26-year-old Duve’s life, plus the next few days after she went missing in June 2014.

State Attorney Bruce Colton’s office filed paperwork to admit those business records by certification, as representatives from the businesses providing the evidence to the court attested to the authenticity of the records.

“All of the evidence which the state seeks to admit pursuant to this motion has been either provided to or made available to the defense pursuant to the state’s discovery obligations,” Assistant State Attorney Brian Workman wrote, adding that defense attorneys have had ample opportunity to explore or question the validity of the records and to depose the people who provided the receipts, video recordings or other records.

But Jones’ defense team has yet to stipulate to the validity of that evidence, leaving the admissibility of each piece of evidence open to challenge, with each ruling – evidence in or evidence out – resting on the shoulders of Circuit Court Judge Dan Vaughn.

Rather than have the admissibility of each exhibit be challenged at trial, prosecutors are asking Vaughn to rule the records in now, in a hearing without the jury present.

On July 29, Workman filed a motion detailing the records the state plans to introduce to establish the tick-tock of where Duve was before she disappeared, where Duve and Jones were last seen together, and what Jones did in the days after Duve’s death.

“While the trial judge may excuse the jury and conduct a hearing on admissibility during the trail, we find that the better procedure is to have the hearing before trial begins. This will minimize any inconvenience to the jury,” the motion states.

The trial is scheduled to last four weeks. Having the records ruled admissible prior to the trial would allow the state to present a more cohesive timeline of events rather than breaking up the proceedings each time a record would be presented.

The locales shown in the records, photos and videos selected by prosecutors to paint a clear picture of Duve’s final activities should be familiar ones to Vero residents – Cobalt at the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa, PNC Bank on Ocean Drive and What-A-Tavern at Royal Palm Pointe.

“On June 19, 2014 the victim was seen alive and well at the Cobalt restaurant and bar. A still photograph taken from Cobalt’s video surveillance system shows the victim sitting at the bar during happy hour (approximately 5 p.m.),” the motion states. “Later that evening, the victim was seen alive and well at What-A-Tavern. The victim was seen with the defendant, who paid for drinks, which resulted in a receipt being printed at 1:13 a.m. on June 20, 2014.”

“The victim was seen leaving What-A-Tavern with the defendant. She was never seen again until her body was found in the trunk of her car in a parking lot in Melbourne, Florida,” the motion states.

Police say Jones killed Duve at his Vero Beach townhome by strangulation and then put her body in the trunk of her own Nissan Altima and drove her to Melbourne on June 21, 2014. Other evidence was obtained from Home Depot and Walmart in Palm Bay, where investigators say Jones bought a burner phone in Walmart’s electronics department where he is seen on video, and where video footage shows Duve’s vehicle in the Home Depot parking lot.

Then, police say video footage and phone records show Jones looked for cab companies on his personal iPhone before calling for a cab on the burner. Court records say Jones was caught on video waiting for and getting in the cab at a Wendy’s restaurant across Babcock Street from the Publix parking lot where Duve’s body was found.

He then allegedly rode in the cab back to Vero and drove his own vehicle to Fort Pierce, where he checked into a room at the Hampton Inn hotel just off Interstate 95. That’s where police found him, using cellphone location technology, and arrested him.

Jones was initially charged with violation of probation in a previous case in Broward County in which he took a plea deal on an aggravated stalking charge and got five years probation – which prohibited him from leaving Indian River County without permission. Then he was charged with second-degree murder until a Grand Jury indicted him on first-degree murder charges on Aug. 26, 2014.

Duve worked as a Registered nurse at Sebastian River Medical Center, and Jones, prior to his arrest, was an investment advisor at PNC Wealth Management on Ocean Drive.

The couple had a stormy, on-again, off-again relationship, with Vero police called previously to Jones’ townhouse for a disturbance and friends giving sworn statements that Jones was very controlling, and had hurt Duve previous to the events of June 2014.