On September 22, 2017, a Tulare County Superior Court judge declared a mistrial in a previously undisclosed case involving Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones and a former friend of his.
Jones’ former friend was tried by a jury for violating a Criminal Restraining Order (CRO) prohibiting him from coming within 100 yards of Mayor Jones and his wife. The Voice is not printing the Defendant’s name because he is not a public figure and because of the sensitivity of the case.
The case was prosecuted by the Tulare County District Attorney’s office. A CRO falls in the category of a court order and those types of violations are rarely heard in front of a jury.
“Violations of court orders happen thousands of times,” said Assistant District Attorney, Dave Alavezos. But in this case Alavezos said the Defendant was also on probation for vandalism and pled “not guilty” during his CRO hearing, even though the Defendant clearly violated the CRO.
“If someone is not going to take responsibility, we don’t just say ‘that’s OK.’ The District Attorney’s office needs to do something,” said Alavezos.
During the trial the Defendant explained the circumstances behind his violating the CRO, but was not allowed to discuss the emotionally charged reasons behind the restraining order being filed in the first place.
Six witnesses took the stand during the day- long trial.
The following morning the jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision and the court declared a mistrial.
The vote was 11 not guilty and 1 guilty.
Criminal cases in California require the jury to reach a unanimous decision for a verdict of innocence or guilt.
Violation of the CRO
The restraining order was filed in June of 2016 and the Defendant violated it four months later.
According to the Tulare Police report, on October 8, 2016, the Defendant’s son and the Joneses’ daughter were both participating in a soccer game at a Tulare elementary school. Tulare Officer Banuelos states in his report that sometime during the game the Defendant walked past Mr. and Mrs. Jones. According to the Joneses he came within three to five feet, which was a violation of the CRO.
The Defendant stated to Banuelos, according to the report, that he was 10 – 20 feet away from the Joneses and was headed to the parking lot to get his keys. He told Officer Banuelos that he did not deliberately walk towards the Joneses and was aware of the consequences of violating the CRO.
Mr. Jones told Officer Banuelos that the soccer game was located at a large field and that the defendant deliberately walked across the field in their direction.
According to an anonymous source close to the Defendant’s family, the Defendant did not deliberately walk towards the Joneses but needed to get his keys and didn’t want to walk all the way around the fenced off field in order to get to the parking lot.
CRO Violation Not Reported for a Week
In an interesting twist, the Joneses did not report the violation of the CRO the day it happened.
Mrs. Jones called the Tulare Police Department more than two weeks later, on October 25, to report the incident. According to the transcript of the conversation, the dispatcher asked why she didn’t call on October 8, the date of the incident. She said that her husband told her their lawyer said “there was no longer a restraining order.”
She then told the dispatcher that she went down to the courthouse herself and got another copy of the restraining order and discovered that it was in fact still current and she wanted it reported.
The Incident Leading to the Trial and CRO
The September 2017 trial and Criminal Restraining Order was the result of an event that took place two years earlier at Evolutions Gym.
According to a Tulare Police Report, on September 10, 2015, Mayor Jones’ wife, Cindi Jones, discovered after her work out that the passenger side tires on her husband’s car were flat.
The tow truck driver advised Jones that the tires had been punctured by a sharp object.
Ms. Jones reported the incident to the Tulare Police Department.
Tulare Police Officer Garcia went to Evolutions to view the surveillance footage of the gym’s parking lot and saw a male bend down on the passenger side then walk away.
The Evolutions worker recognized the man and gave Officer Garcia the man’s name, phone number and address.
Before going to the Defendant’s house, Garcia went to Mayor Jones’ Tulare home with the identity of the man who allegedly punctured his tires. Jones said that he and the man used to hang out and that he also knew the man’s wife.
He told Garcia that he believed the incident “fruited from a prior personal matter.”
“He (Jones) wanted the investigation to be suspended and advised he would handle the matter civilly.”
Garcia recommended the case be closed.
Mayor Jones Changes His Mind
More than a month later, on October 20, 2015, Mr. Jones went back to the Tulare Police Department with an estimate to fix additional damage to his car.
Besides the cost of the tires, Jones presented to Officer Cervantes an estimate of $1638.65 to fix two dents and a broken tail light.
Jones said that the damage did not occur on the same date as the incident at Evolutions, but occurred over the last few months. He believed that his former friend was also responsible for the body damage to his vehicle.
Jones showed Cervantes a dent behind the passenger side door, on the trunk, and a broken tail light.
Cervantes reviewed the Evolutions surveillance video again and observed the defendant bend down twice by the tires in question but did not see the man hit the vehicle or break the tail light.
Officer Cervantes asked Jones if he was now willing to prosecute for the vandalism.
“I’d like to whoop his ass,” Jones replied — but added that his wife wanted things done right.
Officer Cervantes asked Jones why he believed that his former friend would vandalize his car.
According to the police report, Jones told the officer that his friend recently was caught having an affair.
Jones stated that as a form of retaliation his friend’s wife said she had an affair with him.
Officer Cervantes then went to the Defendant’s home to get a statement.
Cervantes asked the Defendant “if there was something going on” between him and Jones that that would explain why they were not getting along.
“That dude is dirty, does things to people and their families that he shouldn’t,” the Defendant responded.
When asked to explain, the Defendant told Cervantes that “due to the circumstances, and the people involved in fear of retaliation, he could not elaborate.”
A source close to the Defendant told the Voice that the Defendant punctured Mayor Jones’ tires after finding out Jones was having an affair with his wife.
The source was frustrated that Jones’ affair was not allowed as evidence during the trial. He also insinuated that it was the Joneses that requested the restraining order and not the court.
After Mayor Jones’ second visit to the Tulare Police Department, the District Attorney’s office charged the Defendant on March 5, 2016 with “Vandalism Under $400 Damage.”
At the hearing on June 8, 2016, the Defendant was ordered to pay restitution to the Joneses for the tires and was put on probation for vandalism.
Also at that hearing, either the court or Mr. and Mrs. Jones filed a Criminal Restraining Order against the Defendant.
The restraining order prohibited the Defendant from coming within 100 yards of Mr. and Mrs. Jones for three years.
“It’s crazy that Carlton Jones was able to get a restraining order against a man whose wife he was having an affair with,” one source close to the Defendant’s family said.
The restraining order is still active and valid for another year and a half. The source close to the Defendant’s family reported that the Defendant and his wife have since reconciled.
The Voice made requests to Jones for comment, but calls were unanswered, and Jones’ voicemail box was not activated.