A May-December romance that went on for somewhere between three to six years depending on who you ask has turned sour and now a Port Arthur City Council candidate is defending himself against a former girlfriend’s accusations while past criminal convictions are brought to light.
Carroll “Cal” Jones, 61, is a lifelong Port Arthur resident and is running for the District 2 City Council seat currently occupied by Elizabeth “Liz” Segler, who is running for re-election. This is the second consecutive city council race for Jones, who was narrowly defeated by Segler in 2008 after he served the district for eight months when former councilman Felix Barber stepped down to concentrate on the mayoral race. Barker passed away in July 2008 after losing the mayoral race to Bobbie Prince.
Jones said his former girlfriend, Latonya Cheatham Ellas, 29, is acting purely out of revenge and is trying to sully his name. “We dated at one time, and the relationship went bad,” Jones said. “She’s just trying to do everything she can to destroy me.”
Ellas contends she’s not trying to destroy Jones, but rather bring his past exploits to light.
“I don’t have any hard feelings, per se, towards Cal, or vengeance towards him, I just feel like Cal has been getting away with a lot of stuff,” Ellas said, adding that the final straw for her came last month when she alleges that Jones vandalized her BMW, which of course Jones steadfastly denies.
Ellas, who lives in Beaumont, filed a police report alleging stalking and criminal mischief last February and is adamant that Jones is the culprit. Jones denied involvement and said that he was letting the Beaumont Police work their investigation, which would exonerate him of any wrong doing. Det. Eddie Shehane, the lead investigator on the case, could not be reached for comment.
Jones said he was taken aback by the sudden spotlight on his past history, but it’s a history that he takes responsibility for and says that the constituents he’s served before in District 2 know the real person he is and he says he’s ready to serve them again.
But not before explaining a 1971 case in which he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in which he shot at Terry Lewis Fentroy, who took a bullet in his side after it ricocheted off a wall.
Jones avoided jail time and served two years of probation before he was granted a new trial under a Texas statute that allowed for his conviction to be thrown out, and on March 23, 1973, Jones’ felony conviction was dismissed.
“That happened forty years ago when I was 21, and it’s all been dropped,” Jones said. “I don’t know who brought that up and why it’s being brought up. I ran in ’08 and this didn’t pop up.”
Jones maintains that the shooting was accidental, and so does the victim, Fentroy, an assistant pastor at New St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur, and the two remain friends to this day.
“The fact is, the shooting happened, but the truth is, it wasn’t intentional,” Fentroy said. “We’ve been friends relatively all our lives. The gun was discharged and the bullet ricocheted off the wall, and it went in my side and I’m still carrying it to this day.”
In addition to the assault conviction, Jones was charged with possession of a controlled substance in 1980 and in 1983 he was hit with a charge of driving with a suspended license. Both cases were misdemeanors, and in the case of the possession charge, he was hit with a $75 fine and he had the suspended license violation deferred.
“I had some diet pills that I didn’t have a prescription for, that’s all,” Jones said of the possession charge.
Perhaps the most damning of all the previous charges brought to light against Jones is the temporary restraining order his ex-wife, Lena Jones, filed against him in October of 2001. According to a witness affidavit attached to the restraining order, Lena Jones alleges that Cal Jones was “physically, emotionally and verbally abusive” to her during their entire 28 years of marriage. Lena goes on to say that she repeatedly called police, but that “nothing was done to him” and he told her not to bother because “he knew people in power” and she was just “spinning her wheels.”
Lena also alleges that Cal once “bit, strangled, pulled her hair and restrained her against her will.” Jones admits that he and his ex-wife had problems, but is vehement that the problems never led to physical violence and that he was never served with a restraining order.
“That didn’t come from my ex-wife, that came from LaTonya Cheatham,” Jones said. Although when confronted with the date of the restraining order, signed Oct. 5, 2001, Jones reiterated that he wasn’t aware of a restraining order.
“I don’t know where that came from, I was never served or saw a restraining order,” Jones said. “If it was filed, it never got to me. Wherever that came from, I have no idea.”
“I never beat up my wife,” he said.
Fentroy said this attack on Cal Jones in unwarranted and unnecessary.
“I’m coming forward because I don’t want to see these people destroy this man’s good name. He’s a man of character, and I would endorse him, because I know his character and I know his background. I just want to stand up for the truth,” Fentroy said. “He’s an honest man, and it’s time to get some men of honor in the city office so the people can stop being deceived and I think Cal will make an excellent city councilman.”
Moving Towards Election Day
With the May 14 election quickly approaching, Jones, a disabled veteran who is currently unemployed after 28 years as a car salesman, said he isn’t focused on the negativity but rather on the election and working for the people of Port Arthur.
He said his previous experience as a councilman is invaluable and he’s going to take what he learned in those eight months and put that experience to work as he continues to fundraise.
“I did more in eight months than my opponent has done in three years,” Jones said of Segler. “I’m determined to work for my constituents, all day and all night, 24/7. I’m concerned about my city, I’m concerned about what’s going on in my district. I’m hungry to work for the people. The people are oppressed, depressed… They want some help. They need somebody that’s going to be there for them and Cal Jones will be there for them.”
Despite Jones explanations for what he’s done, Ellas, who alleges that Jones physically assaulted her at times during their relationship, is skeptical of Jones’ ambition towards helping the citizens of Port Arthur and questions what his true motives are.
“Because of his criminal history, he is not the person of ethics that is going to bring security to Port Arthur,” Ellas said. “He doesn’t posses the necessary qualifications to even be on the ballot. You look at Liz Segler’s profile; you’re not going to see what you see on Cal’s record. You won’t see that on anyone else’s profile. This is just something for Cal to boast about and he’s not worried about the people of Port Arthur.”