The murder of Jarrod Davidson

I recently watched a rerun of an episode of 48 Hours and was surprised that not only had I not blogged about this case since it was one that I was fairly familiar with but that it was not even on my list to research.  You have often heard me say that spouse against spouse murders are almost routine in today's age but sometimes a case is a bit more unique.  This is one of them.  As I was watching the show I did something else I often do when watching those types of episodes, I started a search for more information and in the process decided to just do a full on search and discussion.

In January of 2000 college "sweethearts" Jarrod Davidson and Kelee (pronounced Kelly) Jones were married.  In July of that year their daughter Malia was born.  The marriage soon soured however and by March of 2001 the couple had separated.  On the surface, and probably deep down also, this became a classic case of parental alienation.  Jarrod and Kelee were fighting it out in courts, first for visitation and later for custody.  Kelee started out by denying or frustrating Jarrod's visitation rights. Jarrod continued to fight hard.  Then Kelee made an accusation that Jarrod was molesting Malia.  She reported this to the police and by all accounts, they and child protective services were called in. There did seem to be some speculation that the accusations may have been true when Jarrod supposedly failed a lie detector case for the police.  It seems that when this happened Jarrod got a lawyer and through him had another test taken in which he passed.  Kelee was also in therapy at the time and the research indicates that through all of this it was believed that there was no evidence of molestation at all and even that it was possible that any supposed comments that Malia made either never happened or she had been coached to say.  I was not even sure if I was able to determine if she made these comments to anyone other than Kelee or her parents, Philip and Malinda Jones.  It was also said that Kelee and her parents would say derogatory things about Jarrod to Malia such as saying things like "You're dad is an asshole," among other things.

By July of 2004 Jarrod had had enough.  Kelee was still regularly denying him rights to see Malia and he was still fighting through the courts.  It had now become a custody issue.  In fact, the last time they had gone to court Kelee was warned by the judge that if she did not stop doing what she was doing and allow Jarrod his visitation then she risked losing custody.  Many speculate that the next hearing that was scheduled for July 28th would have concluded with Jarrod having custody of his daughter.  We will never know though because Jarrod did not make it to that court hearing.  Kelee for her part had apparently fought the rulings and insisted the molestation had occurred.  She had attempted to get supervised visitation for Jarrod but all of her requests were denied.  Most people, including the police, CPS and prosecutors believe the molestation allegations were cooked up by Kelee (and maybe her parents) simply to have control of her daughter and eliminate Jarrod's influence on her.  Some say that Kelee got this behavior honestly as her parents were also very controlling people.

Jarrod did apparently get to see Malia for the 4th of July weekend.  When his visitation was over he took Malia (his father, Richard accompanied him) to Philip and Malinda Jones' home in Grover Beach California, some 90 miles from where he lived in Goleta Valley, a suburb of Santa Barbara. Richard would later say that normally when this happened that neither Philip or Malinda would say anything to Jarrod but simply take Malia and shut the door.  However he said on that day Philip told Malia to "Say goodbye to your father."  Some would claim that this comment would indicate that the Jones' had already decided Malia would not see her father again.

By July 9th apparently Jarrod had been trying to get a hold of Kelee for a while and it seems she was not taking his calls and again hindering him from seeing or talking to Malia.  Around 7:00 that evening he went to the police department in Oceano where Kelee lived to file a complaint.  I am sure this was advised to him by his lawyer in his custody battle.  In situations like that they need to file reports to have a record.  It seems that around 9:00 the police department called and reached Kelee themselves and she was informed Jarrod had filed a report.  Phone records show that Kelee got off the phone with the police and almost immediately called her mother.  In Malinda's first interview with the police after Jarrod was murdered she would say that she was at her home when Kelee called her, however cell tower records would show that she was headed in the direction of Santa Barbara.

Around 11:00 pm  911 operators in Goleta Valley began receiving calls about shots being fired and hearing someone yelling "Help, Help, they've killed me."  Officers went to the scene and found Jarrod Davidson dead near his front door.  He had a gunshot wound to the chest.  There was a potted plant near his body.  Witnesses would say that they saw a woman with a blue baseball cap and a baggy sweat shirt near the scene as well as a man who wore some sort of jumpsuit and walked with a limp.  Nearly immediately after identifying their victim police were on the trail of Kelee and her parents, looking into them.  Jarrod's lawyer had informed the police of the ongoing custody battle and his family concurred.  Police were also convinced that the potted plant they had found near his body likely played a role somehow.  They would later be proven correct.  Although the card with the plant said "Jared," a misspelling of his name, and it would look like a child had written it investigators were convinced that was all on purpose.  They were able to get surveillance video of a local store showing the plant being bought around 10:30 on the night Jarrod was murdered.  The person on the video matched the person witnesses claimed to see near the crime scene, a woman wearing a blue ball cap and a blue over sized sweatshirt. Even more interesting was the fact that when the woman purchased the plant she had the sleeves of the sweatshirt pulled over her hands.  What it did not show was a clear picture of the woman's face.  Investigators were convinced that it was Kelee Davidson on the video.  They later obtained DNA from the plastic card holder in the plant and the results surprised them.

By the time the police department had their shift change around 4 am the morning after Jarrod's murder Kelee and her parents were on their radar.  They almost immediately set up surveillance of the Jones' home.  Around 1:30 that afternoon the officers doing surveillance learned that Kelee had been detained and brought in for questioning.  It was soon after that Philip and Malinda Jones left their home and officers followed.  They decided to pull the couple over and conduct a search fearing that knowing their daughter was being questioned they were possibly attempting to get rid of evidence. What exactly happened at that stop has been in contention.  What we do know is that Philip and Malinda were detained and even placed in handcuffs in the beginning.  They asked to search the vehicle and were given permission by Malinda.  They were then "asked" to go to the police station to be interviewed.  Whether they continued to be handcuffed or felt as if they had no choice but to go to the station has been in question.  At any rate the Jones' went to the station to be interviewed about their whereabouts the evening before.  Investigators had also seized a cell phone inside the vehicle they were driving that would later be examined.  Malinda claimed that she was home when Kelee had called her and although she and Philip had left the home that evening they were home by the time the murder was committed.  For Philip's part when he was asked if he was involved in the shooting of Jarrod he all but laughed saying that a shoulder injury would have prevented him from holding and shooting a rifle (the known caliber of the weapon). Despite their reservations, officers had no proof of their involvement and had to release them.  However, they continued their surveillance of the couple.

My research did not indicate when exactly it was that Kelee and her parents were arrested but it was after DNA results came back from the plastic insert in the potted plant.  Investigators fully expected it to match Kelee but they were wrong.... it matched Malinda Jones.  All three were charged with first degree capital murder.  Jarrod's parents were given custody of his daughter, Malia.  It was not long before Philip apparently learned that he had inoperable lung cancer and decided he would make a deal with the prosecutors.  He agreed to plead guilty and tell investigators what happened as long as they lowered the charges against his daughter.  Prosecutors agreed, they almost had to.  When it came to Philip the only real evidence they had was a witness seeing a man with a limp (which Philip had) leaving the scene and they had even less really on Kelee.  Most of their evidence would point to Malinda including the surveillance video of her buying the plant, cell phone tower records and her DNA on the plastic insert.  In fact, prosecutors would later assert that it was Malinda who was the driving force in the plot to kill Jarrod.

So, making his deal Philip told his story.  He admitted to it all and admitted that Malinda was with him the entire time.  The couple had left their home on the evening of July 9th and headed towards Jarrod's home near Santa Barbara, a 90 mile trip for the couple.  On the way it seems they even passed Jarrod when he had gone out to make the report when he couldn't reach Kelee and Malia.  Once they reached Santa Barbara they went to the store where Malinda went in and bought the plotted plant.  They then drove to Jarrod's apartment. Malinda placed the plant by the door and then knocked and left.  When Jarrod opened the door and went towards the plant Philip had come out and shot him with his rifle.  Philip and Malinda then left the area and stopped at an industrial complex where they threw Philip's jumpsuit and shoes in the dumpster and also threw in the rifle.  They then went back to their home.  Philip would claim that he felt this was the only answer to solve their "problem" and save his granddaughter.  He would allege that his grandfather had molested him as a child and that the fact that his granddaughter was being molested (he supposedly believed) made him determined to fix things since he says the courts were doing nothing.

In February of 2006, Philip and his daughter, Kelee were sentenced for their roles.  Philip had pleaded guilty to first degree murder with special circumstance (lying in wait) while Kelee pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury (from her testimony at a grand jury hearing in 2005) and one count of accessory to murder.  Philip received a sentence of life without parole plus 25 years for using a firearm.  Kelee received a four year sentence, having already served most of that since her arrest. Everyone knew considering Philip's health he would not last long and he died in May of 2007 while serving his time.  Kelee was released from prison in July of 2007.  Their deals and sentencing did not go completely smooth however and would be yet another point of contention later for Malinda's lawyers.  After Jarrod's family was allowed to speak Philip was also given the right to make a statement.  It was at that time in which he once again brought up the molestation and in essence was "bashing" Jarrod.  The judge interrupted him pretty quickly and basically told him to move off that subject.  The judge who had handed down the sentences and seemingly did not hide how he felt about the case  was the same judge that would be presiding over Malinda's trial a few months later.  Malinda's lawyers would attempt to have him removed from the case because of the comments he had made at Philip and Kelee's sentencing. Their efforts failed.

As I stated earlier, prosecutors would claim that it was Malinda that was the driving force behind the murder of Jarrod Davidson.  Now, to be fair that may simply be because she was the only one of the three that refused a deal and took her case to trial.  It is unlikely that she would have ever been offered the same deal as Philip had gotten, that is unless she would have gotten it first.  For Philip's part his deal was based on having the charges against Kelee lessened.  There was likely no way that prosecutors would have agreed to lessen it more, but then again I cannot tell you if Malinda even considered it.  It seems Malinda had other plans though and the prosecutors really did have more evidence against her than the others.

In July of 2005 Malinda apparently attempted suicide while in jail.  I cannot tell you what she did or how she did it as the appeal papers I found did not specify.  However, after her attempt failed, Malinda claimed to basically have amnesia and stated she could remember nothing.  She was examined by a doctor by the name of Susan Ferrant.  Ferrant would write a report that claimed that while Malinda could communicate with her lawyers, her amnesia, i.e. lack of memory, left her unable to continue to help in her defense, therefore made her incompetent for trial.  Ferrant would go on to claim that Malinda's mental condition was deteriorating but due to her "coping style and high level of fear regarding self-disclosure" may not make this obvious to those around her.  When I just got to this point in which I wanted to mention Malinda's "amnesia" and Dr. Ferrant I had to actually go back and search through the appeal papers so that I could accurately express what Ferrant had said because I was pretty sure the note I made earlier which just simply had her name with "BS" next to it would not be sufficient to the reader.  At any rate the long and short of it was that Dr. Ferrant believed Malinda did indeed suffer from amnesia, something the prosecutors not only disagreed with but apparently proved differently when they played audio recordings of Malinda while in jail.  I can only gander to guess when Ferrant said  it would not always be obvious to people because of Malinda's coping skills that was her excuse for what prosecutors argued.  At any rate the judge ruled that whether he believed she suffered from actual amnesia or not, that she had been in jail for over a year and had given her lawyers significant information to built a defense so whether she could help at this point was irrelevant as well as the fact that despite her assessment and claiming that court could cause Malinda more stress which could hinder her mental state she did not state or apparently feel that Malinda failed to understand what was going on in court and in the proceedings, therefore she was able to communicate and understand sufficiently.  So despite her claims of amnesia, the show would continue.

Malinda's trial would begin in July of 2006, and yes, she was still claiming to have no memory of the events of July 2004.  A month later she would be convicted on the same charges that her husband, Philip pleaded to six months prior and she too would be sentenced to life without parole. She would also receive 2 years for the fact that a firearm was used in the crime and 25 years to life for conspiracy to commit murder.   The only real interesting thing that happened in her trial was the testimony of Philip.  Apparently it was part of his plead deal to testify for the prosecution.  He made every attempt to not answer questions that were posed to him and not incriminate Malinda.  He attempted to take the 5th on questions but that is all about self discrimination and the judge informed him that was not appropriate since he himself had pleaded guilty to the crime already and been sentenced.  He still apparently tried to down play Malinda's role as much as possible.  The more interesting information came from what I found in the appeal papers.

Of course one of the first issues brought up in Malinda's appeal, as is the case very often is that she received an unfair trial.  She was claiming that on the day after the murders when she and Philip were detained by the police, allowed their vehicle to be searched and later gave statements at the police station that they were detained illegally.  She (through her lawyers obviously) would then claim that the information given at her trial that had come from this illegal detention should not have been allowed as evidence.  The courts disagreed on this point.  They pointed out several case laws that showed that the police had every right to pull them over as they suspected them in a crime and knowing what they knew at the time suspected they could have been getting rid of evidence.  Malinda would admit she allowed the search of the vehicle, which produced her cell phone which would later determine where she was at through cell phone towers at the time of the murder.  As far as the statement she made to the police, it had been proven to be a lie anyway so the courts found that she had not given an accurate statement incriminating herself.  They also pointed out that even if the detaining of the couple had been illegal and the evidence presented by the prosecution had been thrown out it would not have made a difference on the verdict as the prosecution had much more evidence against her without this.  I found it odd that she harped more on her statement made to the police than the search of the vehicle.  Her statement, as I said was a lie, did not harm her other than to show the jury she was not truthful, not something uncommon from those who commit murder.  The cell phone seems more harmful as it was examined and just added to the other evidence of her whereabouts at the time of the murder.

Malinda's next argument in her appeal about an unfair trial pertained to the fact that the judge had shown a  "failure to declare doubt to competency." Now, all the information I discussed above that was in a report from Dr. Ferrant was what was reported to the judge who ultimately decided that since Malinda had been given a year to give her lawyers information to build a defense, and the fact that Ferrant said she could communicate and understand the issues of the court meant she was competent to stand trial.  The appeals court stood by the judge's decision.

The next two issues in Malinda's appeal were a little more touchy, even for me.  First she argued that the judge had forbidden her defense to talk about the molestation allegations and therefore prevented them from allowing the judge to know of a motive behind the killing.  Her defense argued that if they had been allowed to give this defense it amounted to voluntary manslaughter and not murder.  The other issue was they claimed prosecutor misconduct because in his closing arguments the prosecutor said "no motive was presented" and so it was up to the jury to decide the reason for the murder.  For me, and the appeals court, I almost have to agree with this argument.  I say almost because it is just very sticky.  Now, the judge had a valid point in forbidding the testimony, although I am still unsure how I feel about it.   The judge pointed out that first, the molestation charges were found to be unwarranted by an investigation and that secondly it was proven that Malia was nearly 100 miles away from Jarrod at the time of his killing and even if the molestation was valid, Malia was not in immediate danger.  He was actually right on both counts and to bring it up as a defense would be in essence victim bashing.  However, in the same respect if (and this is a big IF) Philip and Malinda truly believed that Jarrod was molesting their granddaughter and that was their motive for murdering him, then in fact there's a part of me that believes it should have been allowed in the court.  It would have been up to the prosecutor to point out that the molestation charges were found to be unwarranted and possibly a fabrication that the Jones' and Kelee had invented to keep control of the child and impede on Jarrod's relationship with his daughter.  They would also be given the opportunity to educate the jury on the fact that the motive given here would not have been an excuse to lie in wait to murder someone.  I feel as if I had been on this jury I would have wanted to know all of the facts. Then came the allegation of prosecutor misconduct.  The appeals court seemed to agree that the prosecutors made statements in his closing argument he should not have.  This is the actual quote of the prosecutor taken from Malinda's appeal papers....  "[It is] somewhat unusual . . . you have no evidence in this case about motive. You can speculate, you can wonder, but that is not part of your fact-finding process."  I personally do not find that statement to be inflammatory to Malinda necessarily.  There were some other comments quoted in the appeal from the prosecutor but they only spoke of the fact that Malinda and Philip had murdered Jarrod... which in fact they did so I did not find those relevant.  The defense would argue that the prosecutor knew what their defense was even if the jury did not and speculated they had none which was inflammatory to Malinda.  The appeal court agreed that what the prosecutor said probably should not have been but also pointed out that the jury was instructed that personal statements by the attorney's were not considered evidence and therefore it was not grounds for a new trial.  In the end the court upheld Malinda's conviction and sentence in the 2009 appeal.  

In the 48 Hours episode I watched Kelee was interview and was confident that when she was released from jail that she would retain custody of Malia. That thankfully did not happen.  She was released in July of 2007 after serving just under 2 years of time.  The television show stated that at some point a judge not only denied allowing her to see Malia but that her parental rights were terminated and allowed Jarrod's parents to adopt Malia.  I could not find anything to confirm this or anymore information in my research so I can only assume that it is true.  

Malinda remains in a California prison.  When I do research for cases one of the things that I often do is look up the Department of Corrections in the state where the person is being held and pull up what I can from here.  California has one of the worse sites for information.  It just gives you the name, their entry date and their location and nothing more.  Considering her age when she entered prison, even if California allows parole after a certain amount of years (sometimes "life" means life... sometimes life is a determined sentence and when it is without parole they must serve the full time) it is unlikely she will ever be released.

Divorces are nasty, custody cases become even more so.  If a couple remained loving and caring to each other they would likely have never divorced. But, to take not just a life, but the life of your own child's other parent (or in this case even the life of a parent of your grandchild) takes a special kind of anger.  It takes someone who truly does not care about the child to follow through with these acts.


  1. Excellent reporting factual and well written. The reason the judge would not allow the molestation accusations in was the accused has a right to confront the accusers. I kinda agree with you regarding judge to allow it in.I believe it would have damaged the defendants case by opening up a whole slew of witnesses who would strengthen the belief the defendants are liars, despicable fabricators, abusers of the court system who file false accusations and a family of unfit, unstable human beings unfit to be a mother and grandparents of that precious girl. Ultimately the defence would have the burden of proof for which we all know none exist. Kelee is out of prison and I wonder if Malia and family have gone into hiding. Kelee is off her rocker so it would be no surprise if she would go to any lengths to get her daughter back. I would totally keep my eye on her and her whereabouts. Thanks again!


  3. And...she's still breeding with yet another man...

  4. This is from 2013. Malia is lucky to be away from her, her other children not so much!

  5. I find this very, very interesting. I read both of the links from the above comments. I find it interesting that in 2013 she and her husband are arrested and have 3 small children. Either those children were NOT hers or I would have to say that she lost those children also as if you look at the facebook page (she has the same last name and imo the fb pictures show it is clearly the same Kelee) it is all about her new child. What the hell is wrong with this woman???

  6. that woman is a psychopath and her parents deserved to die in prison. They are despicable

  7. Looks like from my snooping around she is now with another man last name Stelter whom she has a baby with but looks like she has 3 other kids probably the kids referenced in that other link that she apparently does not have living with her so either she has lost custody or she up and left. There are a picture of 3 kids on her FB that she said "I got to see the kids" so I don't know what that means but sounds like a mess. And she does not need to be having kids anyway

  8. I would kill anyone for harming my child. Losing her other 3 kids was not her fault. It was the fathers.

    1. This is probably Kelee. Regardless, it's not the father's fault that she isn't getting her kids back. It's her fault for partaking in that lifestyle. You don't just wake up one day with a man living in a house with dope.

  9. dear anonymus plse wake up!! of course its her fault!! she never got her priorities right... kids first! n Malias molestation has been made up by her n her parents!!

  10. Like a detective said on The Perfect Murder episode about this case, Kelee may have gotten the least prison time, but she lost the most. Her husband, her freedom, her dad...and ultimately, what she wanted the most - her daughter.

  11. He fell for her in college. She thought he was the best thing in her world. She was a very petite, smiling sweetheart in his eyes. They started dating, having sex (she was his first), and she got pregnant after they had been dating for a little bit... this is after she told him she was on birth control. He proposed marriage to herThey were in love. The families and closest friends went to Vegas, and they got married, that was the first time it all felt a little weird. She was in a different place than he was, she perhaps saw this as her life forever, ever, ever. He decided he'd be happier without her and left. We talked to both sides but they were super pissed at each other. There was no way they were gonna find middle ground, he knew that and the divorce began. He was very good man, treated her like a lady, when he died he was in grad school working on chemistry for cancer breakthroughs. He was so excited about the results or work he was dedicated too, and told me groundbreaking science was going on for cancer patients. He was the bigger person in the ordeal despite the false allegation, and assured he'd always be there for Malia. He went through alot of BS to assure she'd have a father in her life, she just wanted empathy from him and because she couldnt get it, she wanted to emotionally retaliate for the rejection by stirring the pot in the divorce proceedings. And every counter action he'd have to her action or reaction, only villified him more in the eyes of her parents. Until the day she began to tell her closest circle that Malia told her Jarrod did something that Jarrod never did. And she would try and reinforce with Malia by continously asking her, and when she fell silent - she would remind her. If malia was "unsure, or confused" because the answer wasnt affirming Kelee's lie, she would make it as if she was too troubled to speak of it. Honestly, I think Kelee at the time was having issues of her own. The stress of finding yourself not married with a baby, she dropped out of college to have the baby and was a waitress. All of this anxiety and depressing reality was being used as fuel for her justified anger. Over time, in order for her to keep the intensity of the anger up, her justifications were deillusionally getting bigger and bigger.. Malia never accused her father outright, she would seem confused - more searching for an answer that would appease her parent asking... it was sad as fuck, and Jarrod knew Kelee was doing this sick shit. The mere thought of it disgusted him, and repulsed him but he never reacted beyond his own private discussions. It only gave him more resolve to cooperate any way he could to clear his name. He volunteered for the lie detector tests. She was incensed like some of us are when people we love and commit to marriage, decide its actually not the best thing for their happiness. Jarrod was such a stand up guy.. matter of fact he wasnt concerned which side of the aisle you stood on at the wedding. Kelee's parents already amped up emotionally about the impact the situation had on their daughter. Also, the Jones family had a unique way of operating with eachother, loyalty and cosigning eachother was how her parents rolled. If you were accepted by the family, you agreed with Malinda or went along with her in discussion. Otherwise you might have to deal with her targeting later, or giving you a hard time in future discussions.. Philip was the laid back, mellow guy. His wife could do no wrong, he was loyal to the bone and do anything she asked. So, they justified his murder in their mind, in part drawing off of their own childhood pain towards abuse.
    Malia is almost an adult, has grown up in a wonderful home. We havent seen her since she was little girl, because Jarrods family did go into hiding to raise Malia for a number of years now. But the reports I have are that she is doing great, and grown up very well rounded and beautiful young woman inside and out. But shes always been a bright, vibrant personality.

  12. Malia is not with Jarrod's parents. Im not sure what happened if she was taken away or forced to leave them. She has a fb, ig and twitter. Her name is Malia Ellington and she looks exactly like her father. She has been lied to and doesn't even acknowledge her dad. So so so sad

  13. Malia is not worh her grand parents. She was either made to leave or they gave her up. She still lives in CA under the name Malia Ellington and she looks just like her father. She doesn't know her real story or who her father really is. She also has no communication with her grand parents. So so so sad

  14. This link "Legal" states Kelee has NO access to Malia.


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