Michigan Supreme Court ruling reopens wounds for victims’ families

Prosecutors are required to re-evaluate life sentences for offenders who were 18 year old when the crime was committed
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 6:52 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A judge in Lansing heard statements Monday that could help in the immediate resentencing of prisoners serving life without parole. In July 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that automatic life sentences for 18-year-old offenders are unconstitutional.

Read: People sentenced to life at 18 could get resentencing hearings in Michigan

Crystal Grigonis spent the afternoon in court and shared her reaction.

“I was hoping for life without parole, but we knew that wasn’t going to happen,” Grigonis said.

On October 1, 2000, her life was forever changed by an 18-year-old Terrance Taylor when her step-brother Edward was stabbed to death.

“He was awesome. You know, Edward he was so kind and loving,” Grigonis said. “God, he was just always there for us, you know. He – it’s been so long.”

Grigonis said her family was originally advised that the accuser would serve life in prison. Two weeks ago, without notice, Grigonis said she was informed that the accuser could be released.

“We had 17 days.”

17 days to reopen wounds and relive the trauma she experienced on the night of October 1, 2000.

Because of Miller V. Alabama, prosecutors in Michigan are required to re-evaluate life sentences for offenders who were 18 years old when the crime was committed.

Grigonis said it’s a change in the law that is re-traumatizing for families like hers.

“A nightmare. You know, I missed a lot of work in the last 2 weeks, I’ve been to Ed’s house a couple of times,” Grigonis said. “This has definitely brought our family closer but it’s -- I’m miserable.”

In a statement, Ingham County Prosecutor John Dewane said, “Consultation with surviving families is paramount to making an informed decision on each case. Moving forward, families will be consulted.”

For families like Grigonis’s, the process of reliving the trauma experienced on the night of October 1, 2000, has been a difficult and emotional experience.

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