Tina E. Jones, 31, entered a plea of not guilty to solicitation of murder and attempted murder at the DuPage County court, court documents revealed. In April, Chicago law enforcement arrested Jones after she had allegedly arranged for the assassination of a romantic rival through a fraudulent “murder-for-hire “ site on the darknet. According to the information revealed after the arrest, Jones had already handed the fraudster $10,000 in Bitcoin for the murder.
As with all the murder-for-hire sites on the darknet that have appeared in the news recently, the site she contacted and subsequently contr acted had no intention of truly harming anyone. The hidden service, a Crimebay clone called the Cosa Nostra International Network or just “Cosa Nostra,” was an obvious scam. And especially so to anyone that watched the similar drama unfold with nearly identical sites created by the same scam artist. Many defendants in similar cases have attempted to obtain a more lenient sentence due to the lack of an actual threat caused by the defendant’s attempted solicitation of murder.
However, in Jones’ case, United States law enforcement and officials involved in criminal procedures revealed that the lack of a valid threat had no impact on the severity of attempted murder or related charges. Jones, at this point in her case, effectively had to enter a plea of not guilty, even if she has no intention of fighting the charges in a jury trial.
Due to the nature of the alleged crimes and the risk associated with suspects in (attempted) murder investigations, people were surprised that Judge George Bakalis freed Jones. In contrast to denying her bail and detaining her in pre-trial detention. Judge Bakalis allowed Jones to post a $25,000 cash bond following a brief session in his chambers with the prosecutor and Jones’ attorney, Stephen Hall.
The (likely temporary) freedom came with a number of strict stipulations, though. Judge Bakalis ordered that Jones wear a GPS monitor at all times; that she live in Georgia with her parents; that she not leave the state except to attend scheduled her scheduled court appearances; that the must spend less than 24 hours in Illinois when arriving for the scheduled hearings; that she remain more than one mile away from the woman she had allegedly attempted to murder; and that she contact Illinois authorities every week. She was also banned from contacting the married man with whom she had been intimately involved. And his wife, of course.
Given the mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years associated with the charges Jones faces, the relatively strict rules seem more than fair. And likely indicate that the inevitable plea deal will include reduced charges without mandatory minimums.
Jones will reappear in court on August 16.