A Michigan ex-con accused in the January slaying of an elderly Novi woman was free on parole after being given five years’ of jail credit he wasn’t entitled to, the Detroit Free Press reports after an investigation of court and corrections records.
Peter Gerard Jones, 46, had been released from prison on May 15, 2012, after serving a sentence for a 1998 fatal stabbing in Detroit. He eventually moved to the same building as 84-year-old Bernice Schaufele, who he allegedly stabbed and strangled on Jan. 13.
The victim's daughter, Sharon Schaufele of Novi, testified in court last month that she had to force her way into her mother’s home on Jan. 13 because a couch had been placed against the door. She attempted life-saving efforts, but when she attempted resuscitation, “I just heard a gurgling sound from all the blood,” she said.
If Jones hadn’t been given credit for the 1,825 days of jail time, he would have been in prison at the time Schaufele was stabbed, the Free Press said after reviewing records from Michigan, Florida and Louisiana. Jones has a long criminal history of robbery and burglary, and also had been convicted of a brutal attack in Florida.
Authorities were unable to explain to Free Press reporter Gina Damron why Jones was erroneously given the unearned jail credit. Had it not been granted, his earliest release date would have been Feb. 6, based on a state formula that grants early release in certain cases.
“There is nothing that allows him to have credit under the case law of the State of Michigan” for time he served in Florida, Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office told the newspaper. “There may have been a factual reason to allow him to have the credit, but we don’t know because the people handling the case don’t have a memory of it because it’s so old.”
““There is no disputing that this is a very tragic set of circumstances,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy acknowledged in a statement last week.
Members of Schaufele’s family want answers.
“All the things that he has done and the severity of his crimes ... it doesn’t make sense,” said her daughter, Kim Lukacs, of Charlotte, N.C. “Why was he out? I just don’t understand it.”
Jones, who has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder and felony murder, is scheduled to appear in a pretrial hearing later this month.
Jones’s attorney, Arnold Reed, said his client has maintained his innocence and there is no DNA evidence connecting Jones to Schaufele’s murder.
At a preliminary examination last month, prosecutors said they found items belonging to the victim including a safe key, a bloody dish towel and a pink Clinique cosemetic bang, were found in the basement of the unit where Jones was living with relatives.
Jones’s family members – who include a brother who is an orthopaedic surgeon in Louisiana, a sister who is a physician in Michigan; another sister who was a high-ranking U.S. Air Force officer and who now works for a division of Blue Cross Blue Shield; and his father, a retired professor emeritus at
Florida A&M University – and others have said over the years that he has been changed by crack cocaine, which he reportedly began using at age 17.
“I still have fond memories of the wonderful young man that existed prior to that fateful choice,” his brother, Deryk Jones, wrote in a letter to corrections officials.
A former employer wrote in 1991 that had Jones not “made this impulsive choice” to use drugs, “he would have gone on to accomplish his many goals and live a very happy, fulfilling and productive life.”Read more on Novi Patch:
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