A Bucks County jury convicted a North Philly man of first-degree murder for killing two at a campground
Prosecutors had considered seeking the death penalty for Miles Jones. But after consulting with the families of the victims, they dropped that plan on Monday.
A North Philadelphia man was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder on Monday for killing two men at a campground in Upper Bucks County in 2019.
Miles Jones, 42, was also convicted of 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person, one for each of the other campers present when he opened fire during a fight in October 2019, as well as possession of a weapon and carrying a concealed gun without a permit. The jury deliberated for about seven hours over two days in Doylestown before reaching a verdict.
Jones initially faced the possibility of the death penalty. But on Monday, Deputy District Attorney Edward Louka, the lead prosecutor in the case, said his office had decided not to seek that punishment.
Jones now faces two mandatory life sentences in prison.
Louka said the decision to accept that outcome was made in consultation with the families of Arthur Hill and Eric Braxton, the two men Jones shot.
“The decision was reached basically to provide the families with closure. Essentially, their loved ones’ names got dragged through the mud [during the trial], and I think they got justice for them,” Louka said. “They’re not vindictive people and neither were Eric or Arthur.”
Jones attorney, Kenneth Hone, declined to comment Monday.
Jones took the stand during his weeklong trial before Bucks County Court Judge Diane Gibbons and said he shot Braxton, 46, and Hill, 41, in self-defense during a fight at the Homestead Family Campground in West Rockhill Township. The men were part of a group that beat him, he said, and refused to let him leave.
Louka said Jones had no regard for the lives of anyone at the campground, and could easily have left the area without firing his weapon.
Jurors seemed to struggle initially with the legal concept of self-defense at the start of their deliberations on Friday, and asked Gibbons for an explanation of it before resuming their work early Monday.
The shooting came during an annual camping trip that Braxton and Hill had organized with their families and friends, prosecutors said. Jones was invited on the trip by his girlfriend.
At night, Jones and his girlfriend got into an argument and he pushed and collapsed her tent in a burst of anger. As she called for help, Hill and his sons went to investigate, and got into a fight with Jones.
Jones told jurors the men “sucker-punched” him multiple times, knocking him to the ground, where they continued to kick and stomp him, leading him to fear for his life.
Prosecutors refuted that version of events and said Jones was the aggressor, telling the group he was “going to get” them and that “nobody was safe.”
Afterward, the group escorted Jones to his girlfriend’s car to separate him from her and calm him down, according to witness testimony. Jones retrieved his 9mm Sig Sauer from the car and said he attempted to leave, but was approached by Braxton, whom he shot at close range in the chest. He then shot Hill in the back, though Jones’ lawyer said Jones fired at Hill only after he charged at him.
Gibbons scheduled his sentencing hearing for Thursday.