SAN DIEGO - The grandmother of Jahi Turner took the stand Wednesday to explain why her 2-year-old grandson would have never disappeared on his own.
Tieray Jones, 39, told police his stepson disappeared from a park near the southern end of Balboa Park the afternoon of April 25, 2002. He claimed he left him briefly to get a drink from a nearby soda machine.
Jahi’s grandmother Penny Thompson testified that Jahi was shy and wasn't good around strangers.
Knowing Jahi, Thompson was asked what the child would have done if he were left at the machine.
“He would cry… he would try to follow," Thompson said adding that he would not have stayed put."He wouldn’t go to them. He wouldn’t be around them."
Thompson said prior to moving to San Diego, she was Jahi’s sole caregiver. She helped her out because she wanted her daughter Tameka to pursue her dreams.
"I didn’t want my daughter to live the life that I lived so I wanted her to finish schools," Thomspon said.
Thompson said her grandson was a happy baby and always smiling.
Neighbors Colby Ballesteros and Katey Higgins also took the stand. They told the jury they saw Jahi several times at the apartment complex prior to his disappearance.
Higgins said not only did she also see Jones, but she also noticed he was taking out two large trash bags and walking down the stairs.
"It looked rounded really full like maybe laundry," Higgins said.
Prosecutors argue money problems and the child’s bedwetting may have caused Jones to fatally injure the boy and dispose of his body.
Jahi Turner’s body was never found.
Defense attorneys argued Jones truly loved Jahi as noted in the journal he kept with Tameka.
"Jahi is such a wonderful kid. He is lucky to have such a wonderful mother," he wrote. He also mentioned his desire to have a little girl with Tameka.
If convicted, Jones faces 25 years to life in prison.