ALBANY — Rico Jones, convicted in July of felony murder and related charges in the death of his 3-year-old stepdaughter in 2010, has been sentenced to life in prison.
Jones was sentenced Monday morning at the Dougherty County Jail courtroom by Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall. Marshall sentenced Jones to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Should Jones be paroled at some date, he would then be required to serve 10 years on probation.
Jones was convicted of felony murder, three counts of child cruelty and possession of marijuana in the December, 2010, death of Camyria Arnold, who was 3 years old. She died Dec. 27, 2010, at Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon.
Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards said each of the three counts of child cruelty tacks on 10 years to Jones’ possible parole period.
“It will be 30 years before he is even considered for parole.”
The child was taken to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital by Jones after she had been acting sluggish and breathing heavily. She reportedly had bruises and red marks on her body, dilated pupils and signs indicative of a possible drowning.
“Her death was really a forensics issue. It was ‘dry drowning,’” Edwards said. “The state proved she was held in the shower and unable to breathe. Dry drowning is an unusual phenomenon where the victim displays all the classic symptoms of drowning, but doesn’t have water on the lungs.
“I’ve seen just one other case like it.”
Police said a doctor at Phoebe reportedly told a Department of Family and Childrens Services worker and an APD officer that Camyria’s body temperature was 91.6 degrees and that she had a sodium level of 117, which is indicative of possible drowning.
When interviewed by police and DFACS, Camyria’s mother said that she was at work when she received a call from Jones saying the toddler was acting sluggishly and was sleepy. To awaken her, Jones said he placed her in the bathtub and cut the shower on cold. He further told the mother, per the report, that he thought Camyria might have ingested something while she was napping.