Charles Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, killed by Detroit police May 16, 2010, hears terms of plea agreement reducing his sentences in the related killing of Je’Rean Blake. His atty. Leon Weiss is at center, with AP Mark Hindelang at right. Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans set re-sentencing for July 26, 2019 at 9 a.m. Jones, Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley and two toddler brothers were in his mother Mertilla Jones’ home when a Detroit Police “Special Response Team” shot Aiyana in the head several seconds after entry. They had a warrant only for the upstairs flat where Chauncey Owens, the target of the raid, lived. A&E’s “The First 48” filmed two days of preparations for the raid and the raid itself. Aiyana’s killer, DPD Officer Joseph Weekley, a featured A&E star, walked free after two mistrials in front of Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
Jones’ 40-60 yr. sentence for 2nd degree murder reduced to manslaughter, 10-20 yrs. concurrent with 10-20 years perjury sentence, with credit for time served since 2011
“Hopefully they’ll let him go with time served, the best possible outcome; his earliest release is in 2021. He’s held on this long, a model prisoner, and hasn’t seen his 5 sons since 2011.”–mother Mertilla Jones
COA granted Jones a new trial Aug. 30, 2012 based on contradictory jury instructions resulting in contradictory verdicts; MSC refused leave to appeal
“We fought real hard to win this appeal”–Defense atty. Leon Weiss of Fieger law firm
Charles Jones with his first-born chIld and only daughter Aiyana Jones in happier times.
DETROIT— Police forced Charles Damon Jones, father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, to crawl through broken glass and bits of his only daughter’s brains and blood after DPD cop Joseph Weekley shot the child to death with an MP-5 submachine gun May 16, 2010 during a horrific midnight raid on her grandmother Mertilla Jones’ home.
They were looking for Chauncey Owens, who lived in the flat upstairs, for the murder of 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake two days earlier. They had no warrant for the Jones home or Jones.
As the community reacted to Aiyana’s death with outrage, the police and prosecutor put Jones in their cross-hairs instead of Weekley, a star on A&E’s “First 48,” which had cameras rolling during the raid.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Jones with second-degree murder and perjury in Blake’s death, largely based on the testimony of two “jail-house snitches,” which the late Judge Richard Skutt tried unsuccessfully to bar on a motion from Weiss. Jones, now 34, who also has five young sons, was sentenced to 40 to 60 years on the murder charge and 10 to 20 for perjury.
Joseph Weekley, Jr. in SWAT-style uniform, photo from the website of A&E’s “The First 48.”
“All you’re doing is trying to cover up my daughter’s death because of a reckless officer, but like Aiyana I refuse to be a victim,” Jones told prosecutors during his sentencing in 2014. “I hope you go after him like you did after me. Here you are judging me like I’m not human.”
A “one-man grand jury” composed of then-Chief Criminal Judge Timothy Kenny charged Weekley only with involuntary manslaughter and reckless use of a firearm. He walked free after two mistrials declared by Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, despite testimony from a firearms expert and others that his gun could not have discharged “accidentally.”
During the years after the death of Aiyana Jones, the mainstream media has continued to claim that the child was killed “accidentally.”
However, during one hearing in the Weekley trial, a Wayne Co. medical examiner testified that the reason for the lack of gunpowder “stippling” around Aiyana’s gunshot wound “could have been” the result of a direct contact shot. She was shot within seconds of the time a “flash-bang” explosive was tossed into the front window onto the couch where she was sleeping with her grandmother.
Detroit cop Joseph Weekley shot Aiyana Jones, 7 to death May 16, 2010 (depiction from atty. Geoffrey Fieger’s office.)
The defense had sought to claim that Weekley shot her from a distance, first contending that Mertilla Jones caused the shot by forcing Weekley’s gun back in defense of her granddaughter. Jones had been sleeping on the right end of the front room couch. That is what Weekley testified to during his trial.
That claim was discounted by independent autopsy results showing that the bullet entered the top of the child’s head as shown in the depiction at right. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office later officially accepted that result.
The City of Detroit settled a civil claim against it and Weekley for $8.2 million last month, which indicated a drastic change in the city’s official stance on the case.
The Jones family had endured years of vilification in the mainstream media and on talk shows as the city and police sought to blame the victims for Aiyana’s tragic death. The DPD kept up a constant campaign of harassment, frequently arresting Aiyana’s relatives on bogus charges.
Jay Schlenkerman testifies falsely at Charles Jones’ preliminary exam.
VOD was the only media outlet that researched and reported the background of the chief “snitch” who testified against Jones at his preliminary exam, Jay Schlenkerman. He lied during exam, stating that he had one felony conviction when in fact he had seven according to court records.
His offenses included drunk driving and violence against women. He was in prison with Chauncey Owens on an original charge of kidnapping and torturing his then girl-friend. But the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office reduced that charge to misdemeanor domestic violence after Schlenkerman agreed to testify that Owens told him Jones gave him the gun to kill Blake.
Owens never said that himself. At Owens’ trial, during which a separate jury was seated, the prosecution showed a video of his first interrogation by the DPD after the May 16, 2010 raid and murder of Aiyana. Owens named someone else as the individual who gave him a gun. Police interrogators also headed off expected statements from Owens regarding the role of his brother Sherrod Heard played in the death of Blake. Heard, who lived across the street from the Jones family, was present when Blake was killed and was known to have a conflict with Blake over a girl.
Schlenkerman has been back in prison at the Chippewa Correctional Facility since 2014, serving a term of six to 10 years for a third offense of operating while intoxicated, and fleeing and eluding police.
LIGHT FINALLY BREAKS, FAMILY HOPES FOR JONES’ RELEASE SOON
Charles Jones’ family including (2nd from left) his mother Mertilla Jones, sister Krystal Jones, son Semaj Jones, mother of three of his sons Dominique Simpson, and cousin Kiarra Hardy (far r), listen as plea agreement is described in court July 9, 2019.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wanda Evans accepted the statement of the agreement, and set sentencing for Friday, July 26 at 9 a.m.
Jones and his family welcomed the deal, in which he pled “nolo contendere” to manslaughter for a sentence of 10-20 years, to be served concurrently with the perjury sentence. After sentencing July 26, Jones should have time served since 2011 applied to that sentence. His earliest release date would now be in 2021, but his family hopes for time served according to his mother.
Jones did not allocute to the offense. AP Hindelang read the terms of the agreement into the record, that “on May 14, 2010 Jones (provided) a handgun to Chauncey Owens knowingly creating a high risk of death or great bodily harm. … within minutes of receiving (the) handgun Mr. Owens shot 17-year-old Je’rean Blake … and Mr. Blake died from those gunshot wounds.”
Weiss told VOD, “We fought HARD for that appeals verdict.” The COA ruled that the jury’s verdict of guilty on the murder charge and not guilty on a firearms charge was inconsistent due to faulty jury instructions.
The Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear Worthy’s appeal.
Aiyana Jones’ father Charles Jones and Dominique Simpson grieve in front of shattered window as child’s aunt watches. Photo by Diane Bukowski
The chief element in the prosecution’s murder charge was a claim that Jones had given Owens the gun with which he killed Blake. But during Owens’ trial in front of a separate jury, the prosecution played a police video taken after Owens’ arrest May 17, 2010 in which Owens named a different man as the provider of the gun. Jones’ jury never saw that video.
Weiss also said the “nolo contendere” plea meant that Jones did not have to give up his innocence claim for legal purposes. He and Jones’ family said essentially that they felt another trial, in light of previous negative publicity against their family, was too chancy.
Lyvonne Cargill, the mother of Je’Rean Blake, was present during the hearing but did not comment.
Mertilla Jones expressed the Jones’ family’s hopeful sentiments in the video below. She has worked for years with the group Protect Our Stolen Treasures, which includes Kevin Kellom and the family of his son Terrance Kellom, 20.
A Detroit police sergeant recently reversed his initial report on the raid, saying that Kellom had no hammer or other weapon in his hand when a multi-agency task force opened fire. P.O.S.T., led by Yolanda McNair, plans an annual national event July 12-14 this weekend in Detroit. (See flier below story.)
“It’s always valuable to be proactive inside these walls,” Jones wrote to VOD after his Circuit Court victory in 2012. “I’ve been taking all this in stride, and trying not to fall victim again, as well as teaching my sons through the phone. It presents a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’ll welcome anytime when it comes to my children.
Remember Aiyana Stanley Jones.
“I am so happy that I can finally have a fair shot at my freedom once again! I know it’s not just cut free, but everybody does not get a second chance as I’ve seen throughout the years I’ve been in here. So thank God, for this chance He’s been giving me.”
Jones also campaigned with members of the National Lifers Association in support of last year’s “Good Time” bills in the state legislature. They would have restored credits to prisoners based on every month served without disciplinary action, a practice that existed until 1978. “Good time” increased the longer a person served. After two decades, “regular ‘good time’” could equal 15 days a month.
Jones’ excellent prison record was achieved in the face of his unbearable grief for his first-born child. His family celebrates her birthday every year.
Some members of Charles Jones’ family who came out to support him in court were (l to r), his cousin Kiarra Hardy, mother Mertilla Jones, son Semaj Jones, Dominique Simpson (mother of three sons), his oldest son Charles Jones, Jr. and his sister Krystal Jones. Another family member gives the victory sign at right.
Rafael Jones, 14, leads march for Justice for Aiyana and Charles Jones April 23 2012 at Frank Murphy Hall in downtown Detroit, grandmother Mertilla Jones at left, aunt LaKrystal Sanders at right.
POST members and supporters block Woodward Avenue during protest Sept. 24, 2016, as dozens of cars honked their horns in support. They included Arnetta Grable, mother of Lamar Grable, Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Jones, Kevin Kellom, father of Terrance Kellom, and Yolanda McNair, mother of Adaisha Miller.
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Hello, this is Diane Bukowski, editor of the Voice of Detroit, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary.