Convicted 1997 Bonner Park shooter re-sentenced to at least 16 more years
It’s a case that garnered national attention. The Bonner Park shooting happened 24 years ago in Flint.
FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (6/17/2021) - He was 16-years-old when he shot three strangers, killing one of them, in what became known as the Bonner Park murder.
Thursday, 24 years later, Tyrone Reyes apologized to the families and two surviving victims whose lives were forever changed.
Reyes was back in front of a judge because the United States Supreme Court ruling, Miller v Alabama, demands he be re-sentenced.
Reyes was a juvenile when he received the punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
At Thursday’s hearing, a Judge re-sentenced the now 40-year-old to a minimum of 40 years, a maximum of 60 years. He will have to serve another 16 years until he’s eligible for parole.
Before the Judge made her decision, both sides called multiple witnesses.
Reyes’ defense attorney had his family and people he’s worked with while behind bars speak to how they believe he’s changed since his conviction in 1998.
Reyes also spoke. “My actions and inactions is indescribable and unacceptable for what I did. I took your son’s life because I was a scared little person back then,” Reyes said. “I’m not that person that I was.... I can’t deny it. I was a monster.”
Reyes turned to the crowd gathered in the courtroom, apologizing to the mother of 14-year-old Michael Carter who he killed and the two surviving victims, Carter’s friends, Dustin and Nicole.
On June 18, 1997, police say the three Oakland County teenagers hopped on a freight train and rode it until they jumped off on Flint’s north side. They ended up in Bonner Park.
That night, police said Reyes and a gang of five others beat the three, sexually assaulted 14-year-old Nicole and then Reyes shot each teen in the head.
The multiple witnesses his attorney called today echoed Reyes, saying he’s not that 16-year-old anymore.
They shared he’s been a leader behind bars, participated in programs, helped mentor fellow prisoners and he’s acknowledged the gruesome crimes he committed.
Dustin Kaiser, one of two survivors who was shot, said he accepts Reyes’ apology and knows he was young. But, he added, he still can’t understand how he pulled the trigger, not once but three times.
“I want to forgive you. I want to. I really, I really do man,” Dustin sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t know if today is that day.”
Carter’s Mom also spoke. She faced Reyes as she explained she believes in justice for all and in this case that means making sure he will not ever do this again. And, she can’t trust he won’t.
The Supreme Court case that made Tyrone Reyes’ re-sentencing possible is Miller vs. Alabama.
In 2012, Justices ruled that its unconstitutional for a juvenile to be sentenced to mandatory life without parole, citing that juvenile brains are not fully-developed for adult decision-making.
Over the last few years, Michigan courts have been working to re-sentence more than 360 juvenile lifers in the state.
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