Charles Jones still held on murder charges, while Officer Joseph Weekley, who kllled 7-year-old child, is home with his family for Thanksgiving
By Diane Bukowski
Nov. 18, 2011
DETROIT—Chauncey Owens is asserting his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in a murder case brought against Charles Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones,7. Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley shot the child to death during a horrendous Special Response Team (SRT) raid on her home May 16, 2010.
The announcement was made today at the start of Mr. Jones’ preliminary examination on first-degree murder charges in the death of Je’Rean Blake, 17. The prosecution had expected Owens, who is the fiancé of Mr. Jones’ sister LaKrystal Sanders, to be the main witness against Mr. Jones. Owens has already pled guilty to second-degree murder in the case.
“My brother is incarcerated over hearsay,” Mr. Jones’ sister Erica said after the hearing. “The police officer who killed my niece will be home with his family for Thanksgiving while my brother is in jail away from his family. My brother is only guilty of losing his child. That is jail time itself, never to see his only daughter out of seven children walk across the stage at graduation or be married, his little princess.”
She, Mr. Jones’ mother Mertilla Jones, Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley, and at least 15 other family members and friends of Mr. Jones were present to support him, but were not allowed into the courtroom by court officers.
Family members said that police conducted a second raid of Mr. Jones home in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he moved after Aiyana’s killing, during his arrest, holding guns on his toddlers and searching the place without a warrant.
Detroit police claim they originally went to Mr. Jones’ previous address on Detroit’s poverty-stricken east side last year to arrest Owens for the Blake killing, which took place in a local liquor store parking lot, two days earlier. Owens lived in the flat upstairs from Aiyana’s family.
After nearly one and a half years, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced in October that a “one man grand jury” had charged Mr.Weekley only with manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm. No charges were brought against other officers who participated in the raid, which was being filmed for A&E’s “First 48” series.
The “one-man grand jury” was Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, a member of the right-wing Federalist Society.
The same day, Ms. Worthy charged Mr. Jones with first-degree murder, perjury and multiple felony firearms charges in the Blake killing. The charges claim Mr. Jones supplied Mr. Owens with the gun.
Mr. Weekley was released on personal bond while Mr. Jones was held without bail.
“I filed a motion of assertion of Mr. Owens’ Fifth Amendment right not to give testimony, and placed it in the court file today,” said Owens’ attorney David Cripps. “There is obviously a change of circumstances in how Mr. Owens views this case. Mr. Owens is really a stand-up guy, the strongest young man I have met.”
Local daily media has reported that Mr. Owens named Mr. Jones in the case as part of a plea deal in April. However, this reporter thoroughly reviewed numerous statements in Mr. Owens’ court file, in which he never named Jones.
He only agreed to “tell the truth” about who gave him the gun. His attorneys repeatedly challenged his confession, saying it was given under extreme duress as he sat covered with Aiyana’s blood, only in his trunks. After her shooting, Detroit SRT members made Owens sit on the couch where she was slain. (To read complete story on Owens’ charges, click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/23/owens-never-said-aiyana-jones%e2%80%99-dad-gave-him-gun-used-in-teen%e2%80%99s-killing/)
His sentencing has since been postponed three times. It is now scheduled for Dec. 2 in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt.
Thirty-Sixth District Court Judge Donna Robinson Milhouse granted Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran an adjournment until Monday, Nov. 28 at 1:30 p.m., to allow time for him “to find out if anything is preventing Mr. Owens from coming forward.” He also said he wanted to inform Mr. Owens of the consequences of his decision.
Judge Milhouse denied Mr. Jones’ attorney Leon Weiss’ motions to dismiss the case, or at least release Jones on bond during the holiday. Weiss is from the well-known law firm of Fieger, Fieger, Kenny, Giroux and Danzig, which is representing Aiyana’s parents in a civil lawsuit against Weekley.
“I oppose the adjournment,” Weiss said. “There is not good cause, the case should be dismissed. My client Charles Jones has been incarcerated for almost six weeks. I’ve been through the discovery records in his case at least ten times. We vehemently deny that my client provided the gun, and now we have the prosecution’s main witness saying he will not testify.”
Weiss said the only other eyewitness the prosecution plans to bring saw one man alone exit a van and allegedly shoot Blake, in the parking lot of a local liquor store.
Cripps said later, “This adjournment will not change my client’s mind about testifying.”
During the brief hearing, an entire row of seats was occupied by Je’Rean Blake’s family and friends, including his mother Lyvonne Cargill. A witness reported that she was on the scene moments after his shooting. It is unclear if she is scheduled to testify at Mr. Jones’ trial. Ms. Cargill wiped tears from her eyes as she heard that Owens would not testify.
Mr. Jones’ mother Mertilla Jones, still in deep grief, said she had just been released from the hospital with heart problems. She has lost two siblings since her grandduaghter’s violent death. She said she is so stricken that she cannot bear to see her other grandchildren because Aiyana is not among them.
Ms. Jones was sleeping with Aiyana on a couch under the flat’s front window, which police shattered with an incendiary grenade. She watched seconds later as Weekley shot the child in the head.
Another SRT team member, Officer Kata-Ante Taylor, picked up the child and ran with her out of the house despite the family’s pleas to let her father see her, according to Attorney Jonathan Marko, who is handling the civil suit against Weekley.
Police have identified Mr. Taylor as the officer who shot 18-year-old Artrell Dickerson to death in front of Detroit’s Cantrell Funeral Home in 2008. Witnesses told this reporter that he stood over the already-wounded Mr. Dickerson and pumped more bullets into his back as he lay on the ground. No charges were brought against Taylor in that case or in the Jones case.
Ms. Jones was immediately arrested and drug tested, but later released. Police claimed she “interfered” with Weekley and caused his gun to go off. She has vehemently denied the claim.
Trial dates for Weekley and an A&E photographer, Allison Howard, charged with perjury for allegedly lying about showing the A&E videotape to a “third party,” have been set for March 2, 2011, in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Cynthia Gray Hathaway.