Novi — Sharon Schaufele doesn’t understand why the man charged with killing her mom was out of prison.
Peter Gerard Jones, 46, was released from the Cooper Street Correctional Facility in Jackson in 2012 after serving six years for manslaughter.
Given Jones’ criminal record, which stretches back to 1990, he shouldn’t have been set free after such a short time, Schaufele said.
“How many murders do you have to commit before our system knows something is wrong with you and you need to be locked up forever?” she asked.
Jones is charged with stabbing and strangling Bernice Schaufele, 84, in her Novi condominium Jan. 13. His preliminary examination is scheduled for Feb. 11.
Despite his multiple run-ins with the courts, prosecutors and the judge in his most recent case say they don’t recall Jones, who grew up in Florida and bounced between Florida and Michigan. The two states are linked not only by Jones’ rap sheet but by an unusual sentencing arrangement before his latest run-in with the law.
In 2006, Jones was sentenced to 10-15 years in prison for manslaughter, according to state Department of Corrections records. In the sentencing, a Wayne County circuit judge credited Jones for five years he served in Florida for a separate crime. It wasn’t clear whether the two were connected.
The Michigan crime, in February 1998 on the east side of Detroit, involved a fatal stabbing at an apparent drug house, Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said.
The Florida crime, in December 1997 in Leon County in the Florida Panhandle, involved an armed robbery and attempted murder at an apparent drug house, according to Marlan and Florida prison records.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses Boykin, who sentenced Jones in 2006, said he couldn’t recall the circumstances surrounding the five-year credit.
Asked if he had ever done anything similar in other cases, he said he couldn’t remember doing so.
“I can’t explain it,” he said. “Those are unusual circumstances. I don’t understand why something like that happened.”
He noted that, before giving the five-year credit, he had imposed the maximum sentence for manslaughter, 10-15 years.
If prosecutors objected to the sentencing, he said, they would have raised an issue. He couldn’t recall prosecutors making such an objection.
Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, said the assistant prosecutor who handled the case couldn’t recall the circumstances.
The prosecutor is going to retrieve the file, which was in storage, to learn more about the details surrounding the sentencing.
“We don’t know if there was an objection (by the prosecutor),” Miller said about the five-year credit. “We don’t know all the circumstances.”
The court file, like the prosecutor’s file, also is in storage and wasn’t immediately available.
Legal experts said it’s unusual for a prison sentence in one case to affect a sentence in another unless the two cases were related.
Larry Dubin, a University of Detroit Mercy law professor, stressing he didn’t know the specific circumstances of the two cases, said it’s uncommon for unrelated sentences to influence each other.
“It would be interesting to see why the judge did it, and what the reaction was (by prosecutors,)” he said, echoing Boykin’s remarks.
The five-year credit, along with time off for good behavior, significantly shortened Jones’ prison stretch. In fact, he could have been released two years earlier, after serving just four years for the manslaughter.
Sentenced in 2006, he became eligible for parole in 2010. The Michigan Parole Board rejected his bid for freedom and did so again in 2011, Marlan said.
In the rejections, the board determined Jones remained a risk to the community, Marlan said.
When Jones sought early release a third time, in May 2012, the Parole Board granted it, Marlan said.
Sharon Schaufele said Jones should still be in prison for the manslaughter.
“I can’t figure why he’s out walking the street,” she said.
She said her mother and other residents should have been warned someone with such a long criminal record was living in the neighborhood.
Her mom was in the process of moving to North Carolina for its warmer climate. She found a buyer for the Novi condominium and had bought one in Charlotte, Schaufele said.
“It was going to be an exciting time of her life,” she said. “Things were going so perfectly and then this happened.”
Because of the murder, the person who was going to buy the Novi condo changed his mind.
Bernice Schaufele, who has two daughters and three grandchildren, loved to talk to people, said her daughter.
She was the type of person who could walk into a store and instantly become friends with all the workers.
“She was a great lady and I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom,” Sharon Schaufele said.