Wednesday, March 19, 1997
Defendant accused
of bragging

Witness says accused killer
laughed at brutal attack

BY ALLEN HOWARD
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jurors were told Tuesday that Jonathan Hirsch, accused of slashing his mother-in-law to death, often bragged about the killing and shared gory details of her murder.

Stephen Cantwell, 28, a former business partner of Mr. Hirsch, testified in the courtroom of Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Richard Niehaus during the second day of Mr. Hirsch's trial.

Mr. Hirsch, 32, of Casselberry, Fla., is charged with aggravated murder in the Oct. 27, 1994, slashing death of Caroline Jones, outside her Westwood apartment in the 2900 block of Montana Avenue.

Mr. Cantwell testified he and Mr. Hirsch became partners in a Florida janitorial business in 1995. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hirsch described a murder in Cincinnati that involved his mother-in-law. He also told his partner he was due to collect insurance money, Mr. Cantwell testified.

''He constantly told me about it, describing all the details, and then he would have a smile on his face as if he wanted me to ask him more questions,'' Mr. Cantwell said.

He said on Thanksgiving Day 1995, Mr. Hirsch told him that he (Mr. Hirsch) was the killer.

''He even told me he hid after he had killed her and watched as her son tried to revive her. He said he laughed when her son tried to give her CPR and blood gushed out of her mouth,'' Mr. Cantwell said.

Mr. Cantwell said shortly after that, Mr. Hirsch began talking about the two of them taking out insurance on each other. He said Mr. Hirsch also told him he had told a former business partner, Hans Cone, about the murder and that Mr. Cone was the only person that could connect him to the murder.

''He told me how they ran a scam operation, setting up bank accounts using phony names, buying stuff with not enough money to cover it, then leaving with the stuff they bought,'' Mr. Cantwell said.

He testified Mr. Hirsch said he was afraid if Mr. Cone was caught, he would probably plea bargain and turn in Mr. Hirsch for the murder.

''That was when he said he planned to beat up Mr. Cone,'' Mr. Cantwell said.

Mr. Cantwell told the court he hired a private detective to see if Mrs. Jones had been murdered in Cincinnati in 1994. He said he told the detective if the crime had occurred, he should report it to authorities.

''The private detective verified the information and told me I would probably be killed also. That's when I sold everything and moved to Alaska,'' Mr. Cantwell said.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said in opening statements that Mr. Hirsch pleaded no contest to the 1995 assault in Florida on Mr. Cone and was put on 13 years probation and ordered to pay $22,800 of medical expenses for Mr. Cone.

Mr. Cone is to testify today.

Donald Blum, who lives in an apartment in the same building where Mrs. Jones lived, said he discovered her body when he left for work.

''I live in the apartment just below her and I heard her leave for work,'' Mr. Blum said.

He said when he came outside he found her body lying in an area between the back door and the garage.

''I called her name, but got no response. I checked to get a pulse beat, but found none,'' he said.

Mr. Blum said he ran to his apartment and called 911 and then went to get her son, Jason. The two of them tried unsuccessfully to revive Mrs. Jones.

Jason Jones testified that he had just said goodbye to his mother and was working on an English paper he had to turn in at the University of Cincinnati when he heard a loud knock on his door.

''When I opened it, Mr. Blum told me my mother had been attacked. I ran downstairs to her. We tried CPR, but it was too late,'' Mr. Jones said.

The trial continues at 10 a.m. today with David Otto, defense attorney cross examining Mr. Cantwell.