Verdict upheld in 2006 Dartmouth murder case

Feb 26, 2018

A Massachusetts court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of a man who murdered his boss at a Dartmouth restaurant more than a decade ago.

The February 20 ruling from the state Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the first-degree murder conviction of Ryan T. Jones, a New Bedford resident sentenced to life in prison without the opportunity of parole for the July 22, 2006 murder of Valerie Oransky.

According to court records, Jones, who was employed as a dishwasher at the now-closed Old Country Buffet in Dartmouth, lured Oranski into the women’s bathroom of the State Road restaurant and stabbed, strangled, and beat her to death. Jones was 28 years old at the time of the murder.

At trial, it was argued that Jones was upset with Oranski, who was his supervisor, over instructions to avoid placing pots and pans in the restaurant's dishwashers. It was one of several arguments and disagreements the two had, according to coworkers who testified at Jones’ trial.

Jones’ defense team tried to argue insanity after he was ruled competent to stand trial. Jones suffered from a variety of mental illnesses and impairments. According to court filings, he suffered permanent brain damage from a spinal meningitis infection when he was six months old, and was diagnosed with pervasive development disorder.

Jones was found guilty in Bristol Superior Court on October 14, 2010, and was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence without parole. The sentence triggered an automatic appeal to the state’s highest court.

In the appeal, Jones’ attorneys questioned if he should have been found competent to stand trial, and if Jones’ conviction despite his mental health history constituted cruel or unusual punishment.

In court filings, prosecutors countered that proper procedures were followed in declaring Jones competent to stand trial. Prosecutors also argued that Jones’ first-degree murder conviction did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

The Old Country Buffet was located at 424 State Road. The Dartmouth location of the chain opened in 1993. The location closed in March 2016 as part of a broader round of closures by the restaurant's corporate owners, Buffets LLC.