Man convicted of murdering girl gets life in prison - WNEM TV 5

Man convicted of murdering girl gets life in prison

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Michael Lawrence Michael Lawrence
Lawrence in court Lawrence in court
Layla Jones Layla Jones

The man convicted of killing a 6-year-old girl in Saginaw was officially sentenced Thursday.

Michael Lawrence received a mandatory life sentence without parole after being convicted last month of first-degree murder in the shooting of Layla Jones in 2012.

Rico Saldana, who was also convicted in the case, was sentenced last week.

Michael Lawrence and Rico Saldana were both found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder in the slaying of 6-year-old Layla Jones, who was in town visiting from Wisconsin.

Jones' family were in tears listening to the verdict as it was read by the jurors.

Both men declined to testify during the trial.

Before jury selection in the trial could start, Judge Jackson addressed a motion by Lawrence's attorney William White to move the trial to another venue.

White stated "excessive coverage" of Michael Lawrence in both this trial and his murder case involving the killing of his former girlfriend, Angelica Olivarez, as a reason that his client would not be able to get a fair trial. 

Saldana's attorney, Jim Piazza, concurred but Jackson disagreed – citing the Ken Bleuw trial at evidence that defendants in a high-profile case can still get a fair trial.

In a separate motion, White asked that the trials be separated because Lawrence and Saldana had two very different accounts of what happened on the day Jones was shot and killed.

Prosecutors quickly pointed out that neither defendant planned to testify and point the finger at anyone else - so therefore White's motion was a moot point. The judge did not grant White's motion.

In July 2013, another man, JeVonne Greer, was convicted on 18 felony counts, including murder, in the shooting death of Layla. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

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