32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

While acting as his own lawyer, Jones undercut his defense

Photo: Accused murderer Henry Lee Jones.

Accused murderer Henry Lee Jones appears to have inadvertently undermined his own defense while serving as his own lawyer and preparing for a retrial of his 2014 conviction for the slaying of Brian Simpson in his Central Beach home.

In a pretrial motion filed last year – intended to show that the killing of Simpson during a botched burglary was not premeditated and thus could not be first-degree murder – Jones stated:

“When the victim returned home, the defendants attempted to retreat through the bathroom window. The victim initiated an attack which prevented the defendants from leaving. This led to the victim’s death.”

This misstep – which comes close to an admission of guilt – was one of several Jones made during an eight-month period in 2018 when he insisted on serving as his own legal counsel, and it could hand state attorneys a golden opportunity to use Jones’ own words against him during his upcoming April 8 retrial.

Assistant Public Defender Dorothy Naumann asked Circuit Court Judge Daniel Vaughn during a March 20 hearing to wipe Jones’ self-incriminating statement from court records, and so keep it from being entered as evidence during trial.

Vaughn has not yet ruled on Naumann’s request, but he reminded the public defender that Jones was made aware of the possible consequences when he decided to serve as his own counsel.

“Mr. Jones chose to represent himself,” Vaughn said. “He could have argued differently to have [the first-degree murder charge] dismissed, but didn’t.”

Naumann, and Assistant Public Defender Alan Hunt, who’s also representing Jones, presented multiple motions on Jones’ behalf at the hearing, including one allowing the defense to include seven questions related to race on a questionnaire that will be sent to prospective jurors.

Vaughn approved that motion.  

Jones, now 30, was serving a life sentence when the Fourth District Court of Appeals in 2017 overturned his conviction.

Justices ruled a new trial was warranted because Jones’ public defender was not allowed to question potential jurors about racial prejudice or bias. Jones is African-American; Simpson was white.

According to testimony at his first trial, Jones shot Simpson through a bathroom door after he and an associate got caught inside Simpson’s Fiddlewood Road house when Simpson came home unexpectedly.

In March 2018, when Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Cox turned down Jones’ request for a replacement public defender, he decided to represent himself.

Jones’ effort to serve as his own counsel did not go well, and in December 2018 he was back in court asking for legal assistance. At that time, Judge Cox agreed to appoint a new public defender to represent him.

Cox noted in her Dec. 20 judgment that although it was Jones’ decision to represent himself, it was clear that he didn’t know what he was doing. She stated that his actions were so detrimental to his own case that the court would be denying him a fair trial by allowing him to continue serving as his own counsel.

State attorneys and Jones’ public defenders will be back in court Friday, March 29 with additional motions.