Georgia Supreme Court upholds Cobb murder conviction of Clark Atlanta student
The Supreme Court of Georgia has affirmed the murder conviction and life sentence of Kaylynn Shiquez Ruthenberg, who was associated with the Crips gang when he was convicted of fatally shooting a college student James E. Jones in 2015.
Ruthenberg had filed an appeal challenging the trial court’s decision, specifically arguing that the court had erred in allowing evidence of his three previous misdemeanor convictions for simple battery to be introduced in the murder case.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that Ruthenberg failed to demonstrate that the trial court had made an error in this regard, ultimately upholding his conviction and sentence.
According to the Cobb district attorney’s office, Ruthenberg had posted an ad for an iPhone on the popular classified ads site Craigslist. He lured 21-year-old Jones to a residence on Jamaica Cove in Marietta to make the purchase on the evening of Feb. 9, 2015.
Police investigators testified that evidence showed that Ruthenberg and two friends, Jordan Baker and Jonathon Myles, posted the ad with the sole intention of robbing the responder, and that they had done so before.
Investigators learned that Baker had been conducting this fraudulent scheme since 2015. His method involved displaying an empty phone box to his victims and convincing them to exchange money for the phone inside.
Once the victims handed over the money, Baker would seize the cash and make a quick escape through neighborhood shortcuts, often in the area where he lived.
At one point, Baker nearly faced capture, prompting him to seek assistance from Myles, a known member of the Crips street gang, and Ruthenberg, who had associations with the gang as well. All three suspects agreed to carry out the robbery against Jones, with the intention of dividing the stolen proceeds among themselves, as detailed in the court records.
When Jones arrived in the Jamaica Cove neighborhood, Baker entered the front passenger seat of his car. After a brief period, Ruthenberg approached the car’s front passenger door, and Baker informed him that Jones was not falling for the scam. Ruthenberg brandished his .45-caliber Glock pistol and aimed it at Jones and fired a singe shot when Jones attempted to escape by driving away. The vehicle rolled into another car parked in a nearby yard.
After the initial gunshot left Jones severely injured and bleeding, the three suspects callously proceeded to steal his shoes. Ruthenberg then seized Jones’ cell phone and, in a horrifying turn of events, fired another shot at Jones which entered the right side of his neck and exited through the left side of his head, ultimately causing his tragic and untimely death.
Following this incident, the trio embarked on another criminal endeavor that same evening, targeting a man who was waiting for a taxi outside a restaurant that had just closed. In a violent assault, they knocked the man to the ground and forcibly took his wallet.
A police officer responding to a separate incident happened to spot them. The officer detained Myles and Baker and discovered the second victim’s wallet nearby.
Investigators later uncovered crucial evidence that tied Ruthenberg to the murder including DNA, his fingerprint, and shell casings that matched his gun in Jones’ car. This evidence played a pivotal role in securing Ruthenberg’s conviction.
At the time of his death, Jones was studying chemistry at Clark Atlanta University and had aspirations to become a doctor.
Chief ADA Jesse Evans, who prosecuted the case said “He was senselessly and maliciously executed by a gang member out of sheer greed,” Evans said at Ruthenberg’s original sentencing. “The jury’s guilty verdict won’t bring him back, but the sentence imposed will at least ensure that no one else will needlessly suffer at the hands of this violent murderer.”