During hearing days after Aiyana’s birthday, Weekley pre-trial rescheduled to Aug. 21, with trial “before end of year”
Commander who authorized raid on Aiyana’s home fired for “sexting” photo of genitals to female cop
Hathaway sympathizes with Howard, who filmed police raid that killed 7-year-old child
By Diane Bukowski
July 26, 2013
DETROIT – Wayne County District Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway on July 25 adjourned a pre-trial hearing for Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley, who shot 7-year-old Aiyana Jones to death three years ago, to Aug. 21 this year. She claimed she has a full schedule and hopes Weekley’s re-trial will happen by the end of the year.
Weekley’s first trial ended in a hung jury in June.
“This is not fair.” Aiyana ’s mother Dominika Jones, who was in the courtroom, said. “It’s been too long since he killed Aiyana. It means his trial will happen after Thanksgiving or Christmas, while he celebrates the holidays with his daughters.”
Weekley has been free on personal bond since killing Aiyana, while her father and her aunt’s former fiancé languish in jail on first-degree murder charges in the death of Je’Rean Blake. Hathaway, apparently in direct collusion with both Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Morgan and Weekley’s defense attorney Steven Fishman, has repeatedly postponed trial proceedings in Weekley’s case since Nov. 2011.
In related news, Detroit police chief James Craig fired Inspector Don Johnson, head of the city’s Department of Homeland Security and also the official who gave the final approval for the raid on Aiyana’s home. Johnson was fired for sending a photo of his genitals to a female police captain.
Weekley’s defense attorney told Johnson on cross-exam during Weekley’s first trial that “someone” (Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones) had testified that police murdered Aiyana.
“You’ve got to be joking,” Johnson replied.
The courtroom July 25 was packed with news media, including cameramen and a reporter from Japan’s Fuji TV.
Hathaway also sentenced former A&E producer Allison Howard, charged with obstruction of justice in the case, to two years of probation with lenient terms and astonishingly sympathetic comments, including encouraging Howard to resume her career filming police actions.
Howard supervised “First 48’s” filming of the horrific raid on the child’s home by a police military squad in riot gear which threw a stun grenade into the window under which Aiyana was sleeping with her grandmother May 16, 2010.Weekley then entered the home and shot the child to death with an MP5 submachine gun within three seconds, according to testimony in his first trial.
The hearing happened only days after Aiyana’s birthday July 20, when she would have turned 11. Her family said they gathered that day at the cemetery to remember her and celebrate her life and their love for her with a birthday cake and balloons, as they do every year.
Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and her aunt’s former fiancé Chauncey Owens face a pre-trial exam Sept. 21 and a trial date of Oct. 20 in the killing of Je’rean Blake, 17. They have both been incarcerated in the Wayne County jail without bond, Owens since the day Aiyana was killed, and her father since November, 2011.
A family friend who was present said, “They’re probably trying again to postpone Weekley’s trial until after Aiyana’s dad’s case. It doesn’t seem fair that the judge should postpone it because the trials that have been on her docket the longest should be the first ones heard. They’re trying to make people forget about Aiyana.”
Another friend said, “It will be three and a half years since they killed Aiyana, and her dad has been sitting in jail for two years. They’re basing his case on what someone in jail said. They shouldn’t be able to use word of mouth. If someone in jail can say they heard someone say he was involved in Je’Rean’s killing, why can’t I testify and say he told me he was not involved? Who could say my voice is not stronger than a jail-house informant who is probably trying to get out?”
“Jail-house” snitch Jay Schlenkerman testified at Jones’ preliminary exam that Owens claimed Jones gave him the gun to kill Blake, which Owens denies. According to Jones’ attorney Leon Weiss, another jail-house snitch has come forward to testify about what he claims Jones told him.
“They should let Charles out on bond,” said the friend, who is not being identified since family member and friends are continually being harassed, arrested and framed up by Detroit police in the wake of Aiyana’s horrific death.
“He has missed the whole growth of his youngest child who is three now.”
Dominika Jones said hers and Charles’ son Christan was born Feb. 14, 2010, just three months before their only daughter Aiyana was shot to death.
Former A&E producer Allison Howard appeared with her attorney Robert Garrison for her sentencing on a plea deal after the Weekley case. Howard was present with “The First 48” crew, which filmed the assault on Aiyana’s home.
Many in the community feel the raid was set up to put on a show for the cameras. Weekley and other SRT team officers are featured as stars on A&E’s previous “Detroit SWAT” website. Testimony during Weekley’s first trial showed that police could have arrested the target of the raid, Chauncey Owens, when he left the flat where he lived upstairs from Aiyana’s home twice during the day, under heavy police surveillance.
Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran earlier contended that Howard went to a party in the Detroit suburb of Canton with a police officer the night of the raid, and sold a copy of the A & E videotape to another man.
In a separate, less publicized case, Detroit police locked up two men in the Wayne County jail for several months, saying they showed a copy of the police videotape of the raid to a third party. A source told VOD earlier that police replaced that videotape, which was the one shown to the family’s attorney Geoffrey Fieger, with a second tape, wiping out crucial evidence.
The police videotape was not shown at Weekley’s first trial.
Howard pled “no contest” to one charge of obstruction of justice, in exchange for the dropping of perjury charges.
Moran said, “This is a serious felony. Her obstruction of justice was severe as a result of the lies she told to the grand jury. It cost us seven months’ worth of investigation time, thousands of untold hours and dollars, and delayed her indictment and Joseph Weekley’s indictment.”
Hathaway sentenced Howard to 24 months of probation, which she can serve in her home state of Massachusetts. The judge told her she has to report in person only the first six months, and in writing every six months afterwards. She assessed her a $2,000 fine and “up to” 200 hours of community service, including her photography skills, to benefit residents of Wayne County.
Hathaway said she is likely to waive court costs if Howard meets the terms of her probation and that she will consider shortening the probation. She added that Howard can do the community service “electronically” from her home state.
“This has been a pretty traumatic experience for you as well as others,” Hathaway told Howard, who is white, speaking kindly, unlike the tongue-lashing she gave to a young Black man just previously, in sentencing him to three years of probation including one in the Wayne County Jail.
“You are currently unemployed and have given up taking any assignments related to police raids, according to the probation report,” Hathaway said. “You probably do need a break, but I would encourage you to think about resuming [that work] in the future.”
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing forbade any further reality TV filming of Detroit police actions after Aiyana’s death, although he never met with the family to express condolences.
Hathaway concluded, “The court accepts the sentence agreement and thinks some real good can come out of this heart-breaking situation.”
Ron Scott, representing the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, Inc., reacted with anger.
“This is a travesty,” he said. “The judge is letting Howard walk out of there just like it’s a holiday, while Aiyana’s family is still grieving because of the raid she filmed. The woman benefited from Aiyana’s death. She SOLD that tape. She should have been given a much more stringent sentence.”