A man who is accused of killing and raping a 1-year-old in 2004 is in court again.

Curtis Jones, 26, of Carlsbad, was first arrested when he was 17 on July 30, 2004, just six days after his girlfriend's 20-month-old daughter was declared brain dead. The cause of death, according to the autopsy, was blunt force trauma to the head.

Three female prosecuting attorneys from the attorney general's office in Santa Fe walked in to Carlsbad's district courtroom 1 Wednesday morning with confidence in facing Jones' case and they came baring evidence as well as their first candidate willing to testify.

According to Jones' attorney, Gary Mitchell, who has represented him since the incident first occurred, the case is being re-tried because of issues between children's court and adult court within the state of New Mexico. Jones was a minor at the time of the incident and was considered a "serious youthful offender" at the time. The prosecution eventually dismissed the murder charge, instead charging him with child abuse resulting in death. Jones entered a guilty plea to the lesser charge and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Through the appeals process, his case eventually was brought before the New Mexico Supreme Court, which declared in 2010 that his guilty plea was invalid because the children's court didn't follow proper sentencing procedures.


In 2004, Jones lived at 709 N. Alameda with his mother, Tamela Tanner, who is now deceased, her boyfriend Randall, his 22-year-old girlfriend, Chasity May and her daughter, Amy May.

In Mitchell's opening statements he said Tamela, or "Tammy," and her boyfriend were addicts who had a past with methamphetamines, emphasizing that Jones was the "bread winner" of the family and had a steady job.

Tammy considered herself to be Amy's grandma, Mitchell said. When she was still alive she testified under oath and said her son was never alone with Amy, never slept in a room with her, nor changed her diapers. She admitted that Amy often slept in the room with her and Randall. According to Mitchell, Chasity testified that Jones "had never done anything evil to her daughter."

On the morning of July 22, 2004, Jones reportedly didn't have to go into work and decided to sleep in. Randall left for work at 8 a.m. and so did Chasity. Tammy had been at the Alano Club around 9:30 a.m. applying for jobs and Amy was with her at one point.

Attorney Shannon Murdock spoke for the prosecuting team and alleged that Amy had been left with Jones that morning, long enough for him to rape and beat her.

"She had a seizure, stopped breathing and her fingers curled up. The defendant ran to his mommy; he didn't call for help, he had to clean up," Murdock said.

Mitchell argued in his statements that Tammy had come back to the house at noon and Jones was just waking up and when he walked out of the bathroom he saw Amy on the floor, crying. According to the defendant, Tammy was in the same room and told him to say that she fell off the couch and hit her head.

Murdock further explained that Jones carried Amy's limp body into to the Alano club, causing a panic. He violently threatened a woman, using vulgar language, and pushed her until Tammy, who was allegedly at the club, advised Jones to take Amy to the hospital.

Mitchell presented a different version of the story in his opening statements. After Tammy had told her son to say Amy fell off the couch, she revived her, Mitchell said. Jones then went next door to look for their neighbor, who was a firefighter, but he wasn't home and that's when he took Amy to the club, then finally the hospital.

She was taken to Carlsbad Medical Center and later transferred to a medical center in Lubbock for special care.

Amy suffered for two days with ventilator tubes in her nose and mouth while fluids pumped through her 20-pound body. She was pronounced brain dead on July 24 and the next day her cardiovascular system was donated to Life Gift, an organization for organ donations, and by July 26 an autopsy was administered.

Chief Medical Examiner of Lubbock County Sridhar Natarajan was the first to testify against the defendant. Although another doctor performed the autopsy, he was part of the review board at the time and observed all reports.

Autopsy photos revealed that Amy had contusions, or surface bruising, on her cheek, back of her neck, forehead and upper back. She had two fractures on her head, one on the left temporal bone and another, an almost 3-inch skull fracture. Amy also had deep-tissue bruising on her mid back area, vagina and rectum.

When Murdock asked the nature of the trauma, Dr. Natarajan said the manner of death was homicide.

Before the testimony, Mitchell said doctors described Amy's state of edema, a medical term for when skin tissues begin to expand with fluid, was causing the contusions and that aging of the body played a role.

It was brought to the court's attention by Mitchell that Amy weighed more than 30 pounds by the time the autopsy was performed and it was a contributing factor to her injuries.

Dr. Natarajan said he was not concerned with the amount of fluids she was retaining and that he had seen it in other cases.

Mitchell objected to several statements made by Murdock while the testimony was given and pointed out several times that the doctor who performed the autopsy wasn't there to testify.

"Today, this whole case is boiling down to what the experts say," Mitchell said.

Court officials said they expect Jones' trial to last until Tuesday.