Murder trial begins for Springfield man accused of killing his wife, Krystal Jones

·4 min read
Krystal Jones, left, a colleague and the Lane Community College mascot pose for a photo.
Krystal Jones, left, a colleague and the Lane Community College mascot pose for a photo.

Tears streamed down the face of Sarah Kilwien-Palma Rangel as she listened to herself on a recording of a 911 call and gave testimony on the killing of her friend, Krystal Jones, Wednesday in Lane County Circuit Court.

It was the first day of an estimated six-day jury trial for Jones' husband, Gino Mattei, who is accused of shooting and killing Jones, whose married name is Krystal Mattei, at their Springfield apartment with a 9 mm pistol on April 3, 2020.

"She was fading in and out of consciousness, and I wasn't sure at that point if she was going to make it" before police and paramedics arrived, said Rangel, the first witness called to testify. "I started telling her I loved her."

Police were sent the apartment complex at 8:42 p.m., before Jones was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. The apartment also was flooded due to gunshots hitting a water main, according to the prosecution.

Mattei was arrested and arraigned on charges of second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon. He has remained in Lane County Jail awaiting trial.

Lane County Deputy District Attorney JoAnn Miller said in opening statements that Jones, 31, was shot eight times, and two bullets were recovered from her body, including one from her thumb and one near her spine.

Miller told the jury evidence makes this case "about as simple as it gets" that Mattei killed his wife.

"When someone says they want to kill someone; wants to shoot them, and then they do so and that person dies, you have a word for that, and we call it murder," Miller said.

She also said Rangel and her roommate reported hearing Jones saying "it was Gino," after being shot.

Miller gave a timeline of the events, including Mattei allegedly being seen on security camera footage fleeing the scene in an alleyway.

She also briefed the jury on a long list of witnesses, including Rangel and her roommate — who lived upstairs from the Mattei's apartment and found Jones lying in her apartment doorway — and a family friend of Mattei named Mark Grillo who was with him afterward.

Miller said a sweatshirt with spots of blood that match the victim's profile was left at his friend's house, where she said Mattei switched into a clean sweatshirt.

Other witnesses called Wednesday included Oregon State Police trooper Jana Merritt, and upcoming ones will be the medical examiner and civilian witnesses, Miller said.

'I miss her every day': Family and friends mourn a year without Krystal Jones

The defendant's attorney, Geoffrey Gokey, opened by telling jurors to listen for contradictory statements, and factor in how the witnesses' comments changed between the day the crime happened and later.

He also asked jurors to consider that Jones and her husband had been fighting on and off prior to her death.

"You have to evaluate that; lots of people get into domestic arguments, it happens," Gokey said. "You have to think about how that impacts things. Whether that is in your mind is sufficient motive. We'll have to think about all of those things."

Gokey noted that Mattei likely wouldn't testify, but he emphasized the defendant never admitted to killing or hurting his wife in his statement to police.

Miller said there is evidence that Mattei did admit to killing Jones prior to his arrest in a conversation with a man at Dari Mart, along with him saying he killed a Black man, although no other bodies or injured people were found.

"I think, at that point, the iteration was, 'I whacked Krystal ... and a Black guy,' " Miller said.

Jones was a former public safety officer at Lane Community College, joining the school's department as a work-study student in 2015 before becoming an officer. She was also a mother of two sons, who she lost custody of after relapsing with drug addiction. She also was a caregiver and an active volunteer in the community.

Krystal Jones visits the coast with her sons.
Krystal Jones visits the coast with her sons.

According to witnesses, Jones and Mattei had problems. Rangle said she could frequently hear them fighting. Whether Jones was seeing anyone else romantically at the time was a topic both parties discussed with witnesses. While cross-examining Rangle, Gokey said Jones had been active on a dating website.

The trial is being held in-person only for attorneys and witnesses, but members of the public can watch online by contacting the court and asking for the stream link. It lasted all of Wednesday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the presiding judge is Charles Zennache.

Louis Krauss covers breaking news for The Register-Guard. Contact him at lkrauss@registerguard.com and follow him on Twitter @LouisKraussNews.

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Trial begins for Springfield man accused of killing wife Krystal Jones

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting