BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The injuries suffered by Rosie Lee Howard were so grisly the family held a closed-casket funeral.
Her loved ones remain traumatized by the manner in which her neighbor, a former probation officer, killed the 73-year-old Howard three years ago, stabbing her in the neck, face and head then setting her house on fire.
“To be frankly honest, I can’t even describe how I feel when I wake up every day, knowing what I’m missing in my life,” said Jonathan Thompson, one of Howard’s three adult children.
He spoke of grief. Howard’s daughter, Martianna Thompson, expressed another emotion: hate.
As she spoke in court Wednesday, Thompson said it took all her strength to “hold back from strangling the hell out of her,” referring to Cherice Jones, who pleaded no contest last month to second-degree murder.
“She took everything away from us,” Thompson said.
After family finished speaking, Judge Eric Bradshaw sentenced the 49-year-old Jones to 15 years to life in prison. She remained silent during the proceedings.
The sentencing brings an end to a case that began Dec. 10, 2020, when firefighters doused a blaze at Howard’s home in the 1500 block of Cheatham Avenue, near Cottonwood Road, and found her body inside with multiple stab wounds.
Jones was immediately identified as a suspect — Martianna Thompson told investigators she saw Jones leaving the home shortly before smoke began pouring out. She said her mother had helped Jones out in the past and loaned her money.
Jones’ DNA was found at the scene and on Howard’s wallet, according to sheriff’s reports. When interviewed, Jones admitted to a pill addiction and said she resigned from the Kern County Probation Department earlier that year after being accused of damaging property, the reports say.