Lawmakers working to increase penalties for drive-by shootings - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Lawmakers working to increase penalties for drive-by shootings

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(10/28/13) - Stiffer penalties for people who take innocent lives.

Tuesday, state lawmakers took the first step to increase prison sentences for drive-by crimes.

Sponsored by Senator Jim Ananich and others, the Senate just passed legislation that would up prison sentences for drive-by shootings.

If no one is hurt in a drive-by right now, those convicted face 4 years in prison. Soon it could be 10.

If someone is hurt or killed, those penalties would be increased too.

It's too late for Marchand Williams. Her son Jonaries Holden was just 6 years old when he was killed in a drive-by shooting three years ago.

"He was my pride and joy, you know. My reason of living," Williams said.

We met her along E. Flint Park Boulevard near Aubrey Street Tuesday to talk about her son's case. "I haven't been to this area in three years. I don't take Flint Park for anything. I go around it if I have to."

Holden was killed in a drive-by shooting, while riding in his father's car. His twin brother, also in the car, survived. Williams has another son too.

"It never really gets easier, of course, I mean but I have to stay strong for my boys," Williams said. "Knowing that you have an illegal weapon on you means that you meant to do whatever you did. You know it's no way around it. It wasn't self-defense you know so, I think he should have got life."

The man who shot Holden, DeVontrae Benton, is serving between 30 and 50 years in prison.

"I won't see my baby no more, you know until I go to heaven. And he's still in 37 years get to come home and see his kids," Williams said.

Clearly not enough for this still grieving mother.

But she hopes work in Lansing will help other families. She hopes more convicted killers will face life in prison. "He took my son away from me so why do he still get to enjoy his kids. I don't get to enjoy mine."

The House still has to vote on this legislation.

Sen.  Ananich released this statement:

"The Senate's swift action on these bipartisan measures demonstrate how urgent it is to address violent crime in our neighborhoods. These changes are an important part of the comprehensive solutions we need to keep our families safe."

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