Caregiver to stand trial in woman's death

Kelly Renee Jones will stand trial for murder after all in the death last year of an 85-year-old Clovis woman she had been caring for.

Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, murder charges against her were dropped last month after Jones pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Urelda Priscilla Stovall last November.

Under the agreement, Jones would have been sentenced to no more than six years in prison and as few as three years.

She was scheduled to be sentenced Friday by Fresno County Superior Court Judge William Kent Hamlin.

Hamlin, however, in rejecting the deal, said he was leaning toward a six- to 11-year prison term and that after reviewing the case it was clear that none of the parties involved, including the court, could go along with the original agreement.

Jones, represented by Ron Perring of the Public Defender's Office, agreed to withdraw her guilty plea to the voluntary manslaughter charge and told the court she was ready to go to trial on the murder charge.

Jones is being held in the Fresno County Jail, with bail set at $1 million.

After the proceedings, Perring left without talking to reporters.

Antonio Alvarez, the prosecutor handling the case, said the case involves "some very unique circumstances" and that his office was only making a "good faith attempt" to settle the matter when the plea agreement was made.

Alvarez, however, said it is not uncommon for plea agreements to fall apart.

An autopsy report concluded that Stovall -- a frail, bedridden woman -- died from an overdose of methadone and morphine last November.

Two months later, Jones was arrested for what Clovis police said appeared to be a mercy killing.

But Stovall's family believes that Jones had another motive -- she wanted to murder the woman and steal her belongings.

As part of the investigation into the death, police took blood samples from both Jones and Stovall. Toxicology results from the coroner indicated Stovall had levels of morphine and methadone in her system in amounts high enough to cause her death.

Stovall had a prescription for morphine, a narcotic derived from opium used to relieve pain, but not for methadone, a synthetic narcotic used to treat heroin and morphine addiction.

An analysis of blood taken from Jones indicated that she was under the influence of medication prescribed to Stovall, but it was not morphine, Clovis police said earlier this year.

Jones' next court appearance has been scheduled for Nov. 8 to discuss a trial date on the murder charges.