Oakland sheriff: Pontiac killing shows need to fix parole system
Pontiac — A man facing first-degree murder charges in the suffocation death of his Pontiac girlfriend should never have been released from prison and her death underscores the need for tightening a parole system that releases dangerous convicts, the Oakland County sheriff said Thursday.
“This shows the flaws once again ... and it’s a tragedy,” said Michael Bouchard, citing examples in Royal Oak and Detroit where parole absconders have been out on the street and killed people rather than being in prison serving a sentence.
“ ... This violent criminal was given too many chances and this shows a broken policy. They (Department of Corrections officers) are working in a system that is broken with huge caseloads and criminals not facing the punishments that should be applied and putting the public at risk.”
Bouchard made the remarks during a news conference Thursday afternoon to address the arrest of Kevin Jermaine Wiley, 34, a chronic parole absconder and fugitive who was tracked down May 11 in Kentucky, three weeks after the discovery of the body of his girlfriend, Marie Elizabeth Colburn, 30, hidden inside a closet of her Pontiac home on April 22. An autopsy determined Colburn, a contract delivery person for The Detroit News and Free Press, died of suffocation.
Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz called the Colburn death “tragic” but said he could not agree the parole policy is “broken.”
“We are doing a pretty good job and our recividism rate (repeat criminal offender) is the lowest in years,” he said.
“But at any time we have 13,000 parolees out of prison without incident and about 1,000 absconders, who have not reported for one reason or another.”
Bouchard said violent criminals should be held in prison until it is believed they are a safe risk to be released. He noted at least 80 percent of people in prison in Michigan have been convicted of committing violent crime.
He doesn’t agree they should be going out the door after serving minimum sentences and that officials need to be very careful in the release of criminals who have a history of violating parole — such as Wiley.
Colburn’s car was found in Detroit, where Wiley cut off his tether and fled the state. Wiley was later tracked and arrested by U.S. Marshals based on a tip.
Bouchard said Colburn’s home had been visited by a Corrections parole officer on April 18 and the next day Wiley called to say he had a medical appointment and would have to change his check-in appointment to April 22. Parole officers received information that Wiley’s electronic tether had been removed and he never showed up for his April 21 appointment.
On April 22, a parole officer revisited the Pontiac address and finding no one home left a “Report to Pontiac parole” notice for Wiley on the door.
It wasn’t the first time Wiley was missing. The Detroit News has reported Wiley repeatedly absconded from parole, according to state records. He was returned to prison twice after a 2009 parole when he had served the minimum four years on a four to 15 year sentence for manslaughter. Wiley, who also failed multiple drug tests while paroled, slipped out of an electronic tether after a May 2012 home invasion charge. He was last parolled in March 2015.
Wiley remains jailed without bond pending a May 31 probable conference in Pontiac 50th District Court and a June 9 preliminary examination.