Defendant found not guilty in 2018 murder case

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A second-degree murder trial continued on Friday for the Panama City Beach woman who stabbed her boyfriend in 2018.

Tiffany Jones is the defendant in the case and took the stand to tell her side of the story.

During her testimony, Jones shared that she and the victim, Jonathan Vasta, got into a relationship in 2016. By mid-2017, Vasta moved in with Jones into her aunt’s home on Pelican Way.

Jones says it was shortly after he moved in that they had their first physical altercation. She says Vasta whipped her repeatedly with a towel and hit her, causing multiple scars and a black eye.

Witnesses who took the stand on Friday included two mutual friends who say they remember an incident in December 2018 that Jones ‘attacked’ Vasta while the four were in a truck.

Over the almost two year relationship, Jones said there were multiple physical encounters and that put fear in her.

The stabbing took place in the early morning hours of April 14, 2018.

Jones testified she got home from work before Vasta and their children made it to the house.

She says she was in the garage relaxing when the group finally made it in.

Jones says she could tell Vasta had been drinking and that his demeanor was different than it normally was.

After putting the kids to bed, Jones says she went back to the garage in attempts to stay away from Vasta. She testified though that he kept going out there and ‘picking a fight with her.’

“He kept trying to enter the garage and he used enough force to take it off the hinges at that point,” Jones said.

When Vasta entered the garage, Jones said she had no idea what would happen next.

Jones: “The final time he came in when the door came off, he was coming straight to me.”
Defense Attorney Sean Landers: “Did you see anything in his hands?”
Jones: “No.”
Defense Attorney Sean Landers: Did you see him using his hands at all?”
Jones: “Yes.”
Attorney Sean Landers: “Describe that to us.”
Jones: “He just was coming towards me with his hands. I don’t know what he was going to do to me.”

With bad memories of past encounters running through her mind, Jones says she just reacted and stabbed Vasta with the pocket knife she had on a nearby table.

During cross-examination, Jones testified that Vasta put his hands on her that night. This information was not shared during initial statements on the day of the stabbing. Assistant State Attorney Mark Graham asked the defendant why she never told anyone that before. Jones’ response was “there was a lot going through my head.”

After deliberating for about two hours, the jury brought back a verdict of not guilty.

See Jones’ reaction to the decision in the video below.

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