Aiyana Stanley-Jones' dad pleads no contest in teen's slaying

Charles Jones stands with defense attorney Leon Weiss during his pre-trial  hearing on the murder of teen Je'rean Blake in the courtroom of Judge Wanda Evans at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit, Michigan on July 9, 2019.

Charles Jones, who was set to get a new trial in the 2010 slaying of a Detroit teenager, pleaded no contest to manslaughter and being a habitual offender Tuesday in the case that led to the fatal shooting of his 7-year-old daughter, Aiyana, by a Detroit Police officer.

As part of an agreement entered before Judge Wanda Evans of Wayne County Circuit Court, Jones, 34, will be sentenced to 10-20 years in prison by Evans at 9 a.m. July 26.

Jones served five years in prison on a conviction for perjury in the killing of 17-year-old Je'rean Blake outside a party store on Mack Avenue on Detroit's east side May 14, 2010. He had faced 40-60 years in prison on the second-degree murder conviction before the Michigan Court of Appeals granted him a new trial in 2017.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Mark Hindelang said testimony given during the trial is the basis for the sentence agreement. Authorities say Jones aided and abetted Chauncey Louis Owens, who was convicted of shooting Blake outside the party store, by giving him the gun used in the killing.

Under the sentence agreement, Jones pleaded no contest 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."

Jones will receive credit for the time he served dating to his arrest in connection with Blake's slaying in 2010.

Leon Weiss, an attorney for Jones, said after the hearing there is a chance that Jones could get out sooner than 2021 with "good behavior." 

Weiss said Jones is not admitting guilt, however.

"You just don't want to contest the charges because there's a risk of going to trial and also for some people (a) no-contest plea allows one to still maintain one's innocence if that's your position," he said.

Murdered teen Je'Rean Blake's mother Lyvonne Cargill looks on as the defendants family members embrace and leave the courtroom after the hearing.

Blake's mother, Lyvonne Cargill, was in the courtroom Tuesday but did not discuss the sentence agreement.

The state Court of Appeals ruled two years ago that Jones was entitled to a new trial because the judge who presided over his trial did not adequately answer jurors' questions regarding Jones' case during deliberations. 

Witnesses testified during the trial that Owens came back to the store after a previous brief encounter with Blake and shot the teen to death.

Two days after Blake's slaying, police raided Jones' home looking for him in connection with the death. During the operation, Aiyana was shot to death by Officer Joseph Weekley, who was part of the Detroit Police Department Special Response Team.

Weekley said that seconds after entering the home, Aiyana's grandmother, Mertilla Jones, slapped at his MP-5 sub-machine gun, causing it to fire a bullet that killed Aiyana, who had been sleeping on a sofa.

Charles Jones' mother, Mertilla Jones, speaks outside the courthouse after the hearing.

Mertilla Jones said Tuesday she hopes the no-contest plea will allow her son to be with his children soon.

"It's pretty good news," she said. "We're just praying they let him come home. His boys have been without him almost 10 years. Today was the first day he's seen his two oldest sons in almost 10 years. The prison is so far."

Weekley's first two trials on involuntary manslaughter charges ended in mistrials; a judge dismissed the charge before a third trial could begin in January 2015.

In his third trial, Jones was convicted of the murder charge because he was tried alongside Owens, said Weiss.

"The jury hated (Owens)," Jones' attorney said. "He killed (Blake) in cold blood."

In April, Aiyana's family agreed to an $8.25 million settlement with the city of Detroit over the death. The settlement came days before a civil trial was set to begin in Wayne County Circuit Court.

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