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Prosecutor to seek higher bond for parents charged in ‘brutal and heinous’ death of Navin Jones

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Joe Deacon
Peoria County State's Attorney Jodi Hoos on Tuesday announced additional first-degree murder charges against Stephanie Jones and Brandon Walker in the death of their 8-year-old son, Navin Jones.

Peoria County State's Attorney Jodi Hoos plans to seek higher bonds on additional murder charges against the parents of 8-year-old Navin Jones.

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Hoos announced her office secured six first-degree murder indictments apiece against Stephanie Jones, 35, and Brandon Walker, 40. Three of the counts against each parent carry “brutal and heinous” enhancements that could result in life sentences if they are convicted.

“With his parents for the last six months of Navin’s life, he was tortured, beaten, starved and imprisoned, all by the two people there to protect him,” said Hoos. “The defendants spent the last several weeks of Navin's life doing nothing for him, and I plan on spending the next several of mine bringing him justice.”

The initial bond for both Walker and Stephanie Jones was set at $1 million on March 31, and they remain in the Peoria County Jail. An arraignment on the new charges is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, and Hoos said her office has filed a motion to increase the bonds.

“You never know what family members can come up with; you never know what assets an individual has,” said Hoos. “Do I think they would post $1 million bond? No, but it's possible. So we're going to ask for a much higher bond. We haven't decided yet on a final number.”

Hoos said Navin's autopsy showed signs of ongoing physical abuse and extreme malnourishment, and that he was kept in a barren bedroom with a door without a knob that had been tied shut. She said while the rest of the house was “well furnished,” Navin’s room had only a dresser and a bed with no sheets, and a sign on the outside of the bedroom door said not to give him any food or drinks.

“My office's review of those facts as well as the discovery of additional shocking conduct by the defendants led to the addition of the brutal and heinous counts that we added today through the grand jury,” said Hoos, adding the shocking conduct includes text messages between the parents.

Navin died March 29 after he was found unresponsive at his parents’ home on Gale Avenue. Hoos said when Stephanie Jones called 911, she initially complained about Navin to dispatchers and it took 53 seconds before she said the boy was not breathing.

When asked if it appeared one parent was more actively abusive while the other allowed it to occur, Hoos said that hasn’t been determined.

“We know that mother stayed home and the father worked, so certainly she was in the house more than he was,” she said. “But it's not entirely clear, and we think they're ultimately both responsible equally.”

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.