An Albany man who previously was convicted of vehicular manslaughter for killing a University of California at Berkeley graduate student in a collision was sentenced today to 8 years in state prison for assaulting an Albany police officer in August 2015. Adam K. Jones, 41, could have faced up to 12 years because of the seriousness of his offense and his extensive prior criminal record but Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson chose to impose a lighter sentence.
However, Thompson rejected defense attorney Neil Hallinan’s request that Jones be placed on probation and not receive any further punishment for his actions. Jones was convicted on Oct. 28 of assault on a peace officer for smashing a 40-ounce beer bottle over the head of Albany police Sgt. Christopher Willis at the Arco gas station at Marin and San Pablo avenues at about 2:20 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2015.
The incident occurred after Willis responded to a report that a man was standing in the street yelling at cars. Jones was also found guilty of an enhancement clause of inflicting great bodily injury as well as a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest During Jones’ trial, Hallinan didn’t dispute that Jones hit Willis with a beer bottle because the incident was captured by Willis’ body camera as well as by the gas station’s surveillance camera.
But Hallinan argued that Jones should be found not guilty of assault because he believes the prosecution didn’t prove that Jones’ actions were deliberate. “It was more of a reflex action” when Jones hit Willis with the large beer bottle, Hallinan said. Prosecutor Keydon Levy argued that there is plenty of evidence that Jones acted deliberately because Jones warned Willis beforehand, “Hell is going to rain down today, you watch.”
Levy, who sought an 11-year prison term for Jones, said Willis knew Jones well from previous encounters and was talking to Jones calmly when Jones suddenly grabbed the beer bottle and hit him with it. Willis suffered a concussion and cuts to his face and had to be assigned to light desk duties before he eventually was able to return to regular duty, Levy said. Jones was convicted in November 2006 of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter and evading police for a Feb. 23, 2005, crash that claimed the life of 24-year-old Jie Wang, a chemistry graduate student at UC Berkeley.
According to police, Wang was injured after Jones crashed his Honda Civic into Wang’s 1995 Ford Aspire at the intersection of Ashby and San Pablo avenues in Berkeley. Prosecutors said Jones was fleeing from Albany police officers at the time of the accident. Wang remained in a coma after the crash until his parents, who flew from Shanghai to the Bay Area, decided to remove him from life support at Highland Hospital in Oakland on March 10, 2005.
Prosecutors said Jones was under the influence of methamphetamine and alcohol, didn’t have a driver’s license and there was a warrant for his arrest at the time of the collision. Jones was sentenced to 13 years in state prison but was paroled on Nov. 25, 2012. Jones also has previous convictions for assault with a deadly weapon in 1995 and for being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2007. About 10 Albany police officers came to court to support Willis on Dec. 9, which was the date when Jones was initially scheduled to be sentenced, and five officers came to court again today to back Willis.
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