Mother of five children killed by their father asks US jury to spare him from death penalty

The mother of five children who were killed by their father stunned a South Carolina courtroom by asking the jury to spare her ex-husband's life.

"He did not show my children mercy by any means. But my kids loved him and if I'm speaking on behalf of my kids and not myself, that's what I have to say," Amber Kyzer said on the witness stand.

A jury convicted Timothy Jones Jr. of five counts of murder last week for the killings in his Lexington home in August 2014.

The same jurors are deciding if he will get the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Kyzer said while she prays for Jones and personally opposes the death penalty, there have been many moments watching the trial when she wanted to "fry him."

On Tuesday (local time), she wept again when recalling her children.

But she also sounded adamant and aggravated as she described again how Jones hit her, spit in her face in front of their young daughter and threatened to chop her up and feed her to pigs during their marriage.

Kyzer said Jones was a good father throughout their marriage and had an $80,000 (NZ$121,000) a year job as a computer engineer.

Jones' lawyers are trying to show he struggled from undiagnosed mental illness and cracked after his marriage failed.

Jones said in a confession he felt his 6-year-old Nahtahn was trying to attack him by conspiring with his ex-wife, and he exercised the boy until he collapsed and died after he broke an electrical outlet.

Several hours later, Jones said he decided to kill the other children, strangling 8-year-old Merah and 7-year-old Elias with his hands and using a belt to choke 2-year-old Gabriel and 1-year-old Abigail because his hands were too big.

Prosecutors said Jones was an evil, selfish father who killed Nahtahn in a rage and then the rest of his children because he didn't want his ex-wife to have them.

Both sides have blamed alcohol and drug use for the killings.  Prosecutors said Jones used synthetic marijuana instead of caring for his kids. 

Defense lawyers said Jones used drugs to try and treat his undiagnosed schizophrenia, but it made the mental condition worse.
The trial is being livestreamed from the Lexington County courthouse.

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    Timothy Jones Jr was convicted of five counts of murder last week for the killings in his Lexington, SC home in 2014. Source: Associated Press