Judge sentences Mark Jones Jr. to term of years, instead of life - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Judge sentences Mark Jones Jr. to term of years, instead of life without parole, in Merlyne Wray murder

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FLINT (WJRT) - (05/09/14) - Her family and prosecutors pushed for life in prison, without parole, for her young killer.

Mark Jones Jr., now 18, was sentenced Friday to 40-60 years in prison for the November 2010 murder of 73-year-old Merlyne Wray in her Flint home.

Jones was just 14 when charged, as an adult, in Wray's shooting death.

He went to trial and was convicted of first-degree felony murder, armed robbery, carjacking, a breaking and entering charge and two gun charges. The two-year sentence for one of the gun charges, felony firearm, will run consecutively with the other charges. All of the others will be concurrent.

“Mark Jones walked into the home of Merlyne Wray, killed her in cold blood with a single gunshot to her back, stole her wallet, car, and other items and left her body in a reclining chair where she was found by her son-in-law the next day,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. “Our position is that, taken in its entirety, with the facts of this case and Mark Jones’ background, a life sentence without parole would have been appropriate in the interests of justice and public safety,” he said.

Jones is the first in Genesee County to be sentenced under a new law allowing judges options, including a lesser sentence, in juvenile murder cases.

A supreme court ruling made mandatory life in prison without parole sentences, for juveniles, unconstitutional. He couldn't automatically be sentenced to the mandatory life in prison without parole.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Archie Hayman listened to two days of testimony, from people involved in Jones' life, education and prior crimes, during a sentencing hearing in March to determine how long he would spend in prison.

Jones' mother testified she didn't believe her son was responsible for Wray's murder.

Wray's family has been in court throughout it all and granddaughter Karen Klutts spoke directly to Jones, Friday, when it was her turn to address the court.

"Only two people knows (sic) what happened in that house and you're lucky that you're going to hell because if you were going where she is, she'd haunt you for the rest of your life," Klutts said.

An emailed statement from the prosecutor's office indicates, less than a month prior to Wray’s murder, Jones pleaded no contest to the breaking into the apartment of an 80-year-old Burton man. In addition to that case and Wray’s murder, Jones had been arrested six other times for crimes ranging from larceny to criminal trespass.

"We were hoping for life without parole," Klutts said. "I'd of liked to watch his face when they said that."

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