Updated at 2:49 p.m.
Facing his fourth trial, the man at the center of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on GPS tracking pled guilty today to a drug conspiracy charge and was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison.
Antoine Jones was arrested in 2005 and charged with participating in a drug trafficking ring in the Washington area. Jones will receive credit for time already served, meaning he'll spend an additional seven years in jail. After he is released, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle sentenced him to five years of supervised release and 200 hours of community service.
"I think you can teach other people how to stay out of trouble," Huvelle said to Jones during today's hearing. Huvelle has handled the case from the beginning. "It's been a long haul, Mr. Jones," she said.
Jones stood trial three times. His first trial ended in a mistrial in 2007. He was found guilty at the second trial and received a life sentence, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated that conviction after finding the government violated his Fourth Amendment rights through the warrantless use of a Global Positioning System tracking device.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the D.C. Circuit's ruling, meaning prosecutors couldn't use the GPS data at trial. The government had used the information to link Jones to a drug house in Maryland. During the course of the investigation, the authorities never saw Jones personally handle any drugs.
Following a third trial earlier this year, in which Jones represented himself, the jury split and Huvelle declared a mistrial. The government announced shortly after that it planned to seek a fourth trial.
Following today's hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darlene Soltys declined to discuss details of the plea negotiations, except to confirm that Jones continued to represent himself. She also declined to comment on the resolution of the case.
In a statement, the U.S. attorney's office said Jones had "finally acknowledged what the government has long known to be the truth – that over a two-year period between 2003 and 2005, Jones purchased dozens of kilos of cocaine from Mexican nationals and redistributed them on the streets of the District of Columbia and Maryland."
"Jones today becomes the eleventh – and final – defendant to be convicted in this far-reaching narcotics conspiracy," the office said. "The U.S. Attorney’s Office is pleased that this case is now over and is satisfied that justice has been done.”
Jones was accompanied by one of his stand-by counsel, Errin Scialpi of Washington's O'Toole Rothwell. Jeffrey O'Toole has also served as Jones' stand-by counsel.
Jones, who waived his right to appeal, requested Huvelle recommend he be placed in a federal prison near Atlanta, where he has family. Huvelle agreed to make the recommendation; the Federal Bureau of Prisons will make the final decision about his placement.
Huvelle urged Jones to do something "legitimate" with his life after serving his time in jail. She pointed out that some of the jurors thought Jones performed well as his own lawyer and that he had wasted his talents.