LEXINGTON — The death penalty trial for Timothy Ray Jones temporarily halted Monday as the mother of their five killed children collapsed on the witness stand screaming and sobbing.
Amber Kyzer was called to testify about her last interactions with Jones, formerly her husband of nine years.
She was the last person to hear from her five children before Jones killed them, drove their bodies through several Southeastern states and dumped them in black garbage bags off a dirt road in Alabama, police contend.
Kyzer described to a horrified jury the last conversations she had with her ex-husband. Prosecutors also played a recorded phone call the two had five days after Jones killed the children — ages 1 to 8 — and loaded them into his Cadillac Escalade, according to the prosecution timeline.
"He was already on the road with my children's remains in his car," Kyzer told the jury.
Through most of her testimony, Kyzer maintained her composure. She wept into a tissue intermittently. But when the prosecutors asked her to read a letter she once wrote to her children, it was too much to bear.
"My babies. My babies. Oh, god. I'm so sorry," Kyzer said, as the judge halted the trial and members of the jury exited the courtroom past her.
"I miss my babies. I want my babies. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," she continued.
"They are my babies. They should still be here," she screamed as she was pulled from the witness stand and shepherded out of the room.
Monday marked the fifth day of the high-profile trial that will decide whether Jones is sentenced to death for the murders of his five children. The 18 jurors chosen for the trial have already listened to brutal testimony in the case, including Jones' confession to FBI agents.
A coroner explained Monday morning how the children's bodies had decomposed after Jones dumped them out along with the sheets, comforters and Hello Kitty diary he discarded.
Two of the bodies were chewed on by animals, according to the coroner's report. Another showed signs that someone tried to saw off one of the children's legs.
Jones has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Kyzer doesn't believe her ex-husband was mentally ill. But she also described how she had to deal with his mood swings.
Jones took custody of the children after the couple divorced. At the time, Kyzer didn't have a car and she didn't have a job. She thought it was the right decision for her children.
"I did not want him to be a primary caregiver, but he was the better provider," she told the jury. "I thought I was making the best decision I could as a mother."
The trial resumes Tuesday.