Aiyana Stanley-Jones' dad gets 10-20 years in teen's killing
In an emotion-packed hearing, the father of slain 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was sentenced Friday to 10-20 years in prison for his role in the 2010 shooting death of a Detroit teenager.
The resentencing of Charles Damon Jones for manslaughter and being a habitual offender brought some onlookers in Wayne County Circuit Court to tears, including family members of Je'rean Blake, whose slaying triggered the police manhunt that ended with Aiyana shot to death in her family's home during a raid.
"Everybody tells me to be strong. I can't stay strong no more," Blake's mother, Lyvonne Cargill, told Jones. "I need help. I feel like I'm about to have a nervous breakdown. I forgive you but I ain't going to never forget what you did. You and the other coward."
Authorities say Jones aided and abetted Chauncey Louis Owens, who was convicted of shooting Blake outside an east-side party store on May 14, 2010, by giving him the gun used in the killing. Owens shot the teen because he "didn't like" the way Blake had looked at him.
Jones will get credit for the 2,841 days he has served for the death of the 17-year-old and he could be released with the next two years with good conduct.
Earlier this month, Jones pleaded no contest as part of a sentencing agreement. 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.
Beside Blake's mother, his 10-year-old daughter and godmother spoke at Jones' sentencing Friday before Judge Wanda Evans.
Cargill admonished Jones, telling him, "I just don't understand two grown men ... You could have gotten someone else to jump up on him. I'd rather y'all fight him than killing him."
She said she keeps hoping she'll see her son, but instead "he's on my table in an urn."
"My son has a voice and I'm going to make sure this world don't forget about my son," said Cargill. "You stole his life and stole my heart, you and your partner-in-crime. That's all I got to say. I'm going to leave everything in God's hands."
Blake, who was a month away from graduating from high school and joining the U.S. Marines, left behind a 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Zyonna Cray, when he was killed. Blake's godmother, Lakese Anderson, read the girl's victim impact statement.
"How could you do this to my daddy?" asked Zyonna in her statement. "He was loved ... . This makes me cry every time I hear somebody talk about him. I go to sleep with no calls or hugs from my daddy. When I hear my friends talk about their daddy ... it makes me sad."
Jones apologized to Cargill and her family.
"I would like to offer my condolences to the family," said Jones. "I pray that they get to mourn, grieve and rejoice from my conviction. I'm sorry for their loss."
Evans told Cargill and Blake's family she "hopes that you can find peace." The judge told Jones to have no contact or "third-party" contact with Cargill and her family, ordering Jones' relatives to "stay off" and not try to contact Cargill and her family through Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other social media platforms.
"Your family needs to let it go," the judge said.
Evans told Jones that if he is released, she hopes that he is rehabilitated "to the point that you become a law-abiding citizen" and "that you contribute to society in a positive way and not a negative way."
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 his case during deliberations.
Witnesses testified during the trial that Owens had a brief encounter with Blake and came back to the store after and shot the teen to death.
Two days after Blake's slaying, police raided Jones' home on Detroit's east side looking for him in connection with the teen's death. During the operation, Aiyana was shot to death by Detroit police 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 MP5 submachine gun, causing it to fire a bullet that struck Aiyana, who had been sleeping on a sofa.
In April, Jones' family settled a lawsuit against the City of Detroit over the girl's death for $8.5 million.