After about an hour of deliberation Monday, a Montgomery County jury found Keenan Jones guilty of shooting five people last summer inside a crowded Walmart in Cheltenham Township.
Jones, 31, was convicted of attempted murder, as well as multiple counts of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, and firearm offenses. His bail was revoked by Montgomery County Judge Risa Vetri Ferman ahead of his sentencing, which will be in 90 days.
“I think the verdict shows the jury heard the evidence loud and clear,” said Assistant District Attorney Tonya Lupinacci, the lead prosecutor in the case. “They saw right through the concocted defense of not guilty by reason of insanity and realized the facts of the case overwhelmingly indicated guilt."
Jones’ attorney, Vanessa Bellino, declined to comment after the verdict.
During their closing statements, the defense and prosecution took turns skewering each other’s expert witnesses in a duel over whether Jones was legally insane when he opened fire inside the store.
Prosecutors said his irrational behavior was brought on by a “drug-induced psychosis,” because marijuana was found in his system. Lupinacci asserted that Jones clearly knew what he did was wrong, as evidenced by his decision to flee the scene, stopping only to discard the firearm he had used.
Nowhere was that more apparent, Lupinacci said, than in the testimony of Akiya Dash, a Walmart employee who told jurors last week that she believed Jones shot her four times because he feared she would identify him to police.
“There is no evidence that speaks to you more than her words,” Lupinacci said. “He knew what he did, he knew it was wrong, and he was going to shoot his way out of that store.”
Bellino rejected the notion that drugs played any role in the shooting.
“Are you telling me this man has been on anti-psychotic medicine for 14 months when he doesn’t need to be?” she asked jurors, referring to Jones’ continued mental health treatment at the county jail.
“They would not continue to treat him if the psychosis was substance-induced,” she added.
Bellino told jurors to note his expression in the surveillance footage, which she said clearly showed a terrified man who thought his life was in danger. She reminded them of earlier testimony that he had told emergency room doctors in the hours after the shooting that Kevin Richards, the first person he shot, was staring at him and that “people stare at you when they’re going to shoot you.”
In the final two days of testimony, jurors heard from defense witnesses — including Bianca Rodriquez, Jones’ girlfriend and the mother of his child — who further advanced the idea that Jones was not acting rationally on the day of the shooting and hadn’t been for some time.
Gerald Cooke, a forensic psychologist who examined Jones for his attorney, said he believed Jones was “psychotic and paranoid” on the day of the shooting, suffering from an acute psychotic break brought on by the stress of Rodriquez’s complicated pregnancy.
“He thought he was going to be shot because of how [Kevin Richards] looked at him,” Cooke said. “He knew he was shooting, but he thought the shooting was in self-defense.
“It’s not reasonable,” he added. “That’s what psychosis is.”
Cooke said interviews with Jones’ family revealed that he had been exhibiting strange behavior for about a week before the shooting. Jones’ mother and sister told Cooke that he would often run to the window of his home, looking to see if anyone was outside, fearful that they were there to kill him.