A mother whose ex-husband was convicted of murdering their five young children had a stunning request for jurors during a sentencing hearing — spare his 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 would have to say," Amber Kyzer said on the witness stand in a South Carolina courtroom Tuesday.
Timothy Jones, 37, Kyzer's ex-husband, was convicted of five counts of murder last week for the killings in August 2014. Jurors are deciding whether to give him the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
"The mom in me was like, fry him, fry him, absolutely,'' Kyzer said on the stand. "But from the beginning, I have maintained ... I'm a strong believer in no death penalty."
Lexington County prosecutors argued during the trial that Jones killed the children because he didn't want Kyzer to get custody of them. The two were married in 2004 and together for eight years before breaking up, according to The State newspaper.
Prosecutors said Jones strangled four of his children, who ranged in age from 1 to 8, and killed their 6-year-old son by making him exercise to the point that he became dehydrated and collapsed and died.
Jones dumped their bodies in garbage bags on a hillside in Alabama. He was later arrested at a checkpoint in Mississippi after an officer noticed a terrible smell in his SUV, according to prosecutors.
During the trial, Kyzer alleged she had suffered years of abuse by Jones. But she still pleaded for his life to be spared.
At one point Tuesday, she turned from addressing the jury and stared directly at Jones, who started crying.
"I'm not here for me,'' she said. "The mom in me wants him to feel everything that I feel, that my kids felt. Nothing justifies, nothing justifies what you've done. Or justify what you've done to me. ... I hope for mercy for you. I pray for you often. ... I say that from the depth of my soul. There's been so much loss."
The defense is expected to call more witnesses Wednesday. If just one juror decides against the death penalty, his life will be spared.
"I don't personally feel I have the right to put anyone's life in my hands,'' Kyzer said on the stand. "I don't wish the Jones family to feel what I feel losing my son."