Aiyana to get her day in court
Trial date set for officer responsible for shooting-death of 7-year-old
By Eric T. Campbell
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — After three long years, the case of Aiyana Stanley-Jones will finally be argued before a jury.
During a March 8 pre-trial hearing, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray-Hathaway denied a motion to dismiss all charges against Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley in the shooting-death of the 7-year-old.
In a military-style raid on the Jones’ near east side home May 16, 2010, Weekley shot into the house, killing Aiyana as she slept on the family’s living room sofa.
He faces multiple charges, including involuntary manslaughter and reckless possession of a firearm.
Those charges were brought against Weekley after a year-long investigation by the Michigan State Police and a Wayne County Court.
During the hearing, Judge Hathaway said discrepancies in witness accounts of the police raid led to the decision to deny the defense motion to dismiss the case.
“Since I can’t make that determination, the case has to go to a jury to decide what the truth is,” Hathaway said during her ruling. “We’re going to go to trial.”
Hathaway set the trial start date for May 28.
Judge Hathaway also announced there would be a demonstration of the flash grenade that was used by Detroit Police during the raid, which was reportedly being filmed by A&E for their cable television program “The First 48 Hours.”
While the Jones family has waited for the court to move on the case, Aiyana’s father, Charles Jones, has been in custody on separate charges in connection with the murder of Je’Rean Blake.
Weekley has remained free on bond, while Aiyana’s father has been held on pending charges related to another case.
“He has a police badge so he can walk free and go home to his children,” said Mertilla Jones on the steps of the Murphy Hall of Justice following the judges ruling. “But Charles is locked up for two years and can’t see his six little sons.”
According to reports, jailhouse informant and six-time felon Jay Schlenkerman led police to the doorstep of the Jones’ home in May 2010, where the prime suspect in that case, Chauncey Owens, lived upstairs.
The police raid was mistakenly conducted on the lower flat where the Jones’ family lived.
Attorney Robert Moran is the Wayne County prosecutor representing both Officer Joseph Weekley and Charles Jones. This has led to accusations of a looming conflict of interest within the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office and other questions surrounding the timing of the cases.
Assistant prosecuting attorney Maria Miller says there is no conflict.
“Jones case involves the fatal shooting death of Je’rean Blake. The Weekley case involves the fatal shooting death of Aiyana Jones. The complainants on the two cases are different, and the facts are completely distinct,” Miller told the Michigan Citizen. “For these reasons, it is not a conflict of interest for Mr. Moran to try these cases.”
Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, however, says the prosecution may be counting on a ruling in the Charles Jones case before Weekley goes to trial.
“The question is, why has this case taken so long?” says Scott. “The raid was obviously not conducted according to police regulations. There are many other cases where the Michigan State Police have brought in and adjudicated within 18 months.”
In addition to the DCAPB, the Jones family has received full support from the International Socialists Organization, who both sponsored a rally after the March 8 hearing.