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Lawyer Says Timothy Ray Jones, Dad of Five Slain Kids, Is Mentally Ill

A lawyer for the man accused of murdering his five children says he is mentally ill. Timothy Ray Jones Jr. chose not to appear in court for an initial hearing Friday, but he met with attorneys hired by his family to work with the public defender assigned to his case. "It’s clear and evident that he is suffering from a serious untreated mental illness," one of the lawyer, Aimee Zmroczck, told NBC News.

Jones, 32, is charged with killing his kids — ages 1 to 8 — at his home in South Carolina and then driving across three states to dump their bodies in the woods of Alabama, where they were found Tuesday. Jones was arrested over the weekend in Mississippi, where he was detained at a traffic checkpoint for driving a blood-soaked Cadillac Escalade while high on synthetic marijuana.

He was driven back to South Carolina on Thursday afternoon, and his lawyers said they had to get a judge's permission to meet with him that evening. Zmroczck said she is concerned that jail officials, who have labeled him a suicide risk, plan to isolate him in a cell where the lights will be on 24 hours a day. A spokeswoman for the state corrections department said in a statement that Jones "is being held in a maximum security facility and proper precautions are being taken for safety and security."

Tim Jones Jr. 'Is Not the Animal' He's Being Portrayed As 1:57

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— Tracy Connor and Vivian Glover