A Juvenile Facing Life In Michigan’s Prison System Maybe Be Released Early
Jennifer Pruitt was a teenager when she was convicted of murder for her role in the death of 74 year old Elmer Heichel of Pontiac. Now though, she may see an early release and is a millionaire.
Jennifer Pruitt is one of 350 inmates that will have their cases revisited because they were minors when they committed horrific crimes.
The Detroit News reported...
"Jennifer Pruitt, now 41, was 16 at the time of the August 1992 slaying of Elmer Heichel, 74, who was stabbed 27 times during a robbery in his Pontiac apartment. She is one of the state’s first juvenile life sentence cases up for resentencing under a June 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that life without parole for those under 18 constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Oakland County Circuit Judge Martha Anderson listened to all of the pleadings in the case and will announce her decision on March 2nd. I assume that an early release case, is pause for any judge, but this situation is a tad dicier then most. You see, not only was Jennifer Pruitt personally close to the victim, she is a victim herself.
Years ago, when Jennifer arrived at the 'Scott Correction Facility' in 1992, she was pulled out of her cell by a guard and forced to perform oral sex on him. If that were not enough abuse, she was raped by another guard in a utility closet repeatedly at night. The abuse went on for years. Skip ahead to 1996, Jennifer and nine other female inmates sued the State of Michigan and won $15.5 million. Jennifer's cut...$3.5 million (before taxes and legal fees).
Elmer Heichels granddaughter testified in court on behalf of her family and when walking out of the court room was quoted as saying...
"Now she's (Pruitt) is going to walk out of there a millionaire".
It is noted that at the time of Pruitts original hearing Heichel's family sought restitution. They were told not to bother because she will never be released from prison, and (at the time) had no money and no assets. Well, now she does have money and the victims family wish for Pruitt to pay them $9,000 for the cost of his funeral. It will be Pruitts choice to give the money to the family because the statute of limitations has run out to file a lawsuit against Pruitt for restitution.
Another upsetting thing about this case is that Pruitt never apologized to the victims family until this current court hearing. Pruitt tried to fix the situation by finally stating in court...
"I am so, so sorry that I caused the death of an innocent man. I'm deeply ashamed of what I've done and the harm I've caused on Mr. Heichel and his family. I pray that the Heichel family can have peace and serenity in their hearts and that Mr. Heichel can rest in peace."
It took 24 years for her to apologize to the victims family, and if you were wondering she did not offer restitution to the family.
The family stated in court that Jennifer used to refer to Elmer Heichel as "Grandpa", did odd jobs around Heichel's home for pocket money and even attended his 75th birthday party just weeks before he was murdered.
There is no doubt to Jennifer's guilt because she admitted her role in the awful crime. According to the courts, here is what happened...
Jennifer Pruitt and a friend, Donna Miracle, went to Elmer Heichel's home because Pruitt told Miracle that Mr. Heichel had cash in his home that they could steal. So late one night in August of 1992, the two girls went into his home to rob him. Heichel knew Jennifer and let them in. Pruitt later said she walked out of the bathroom to find her friend Donna Miracle stabbing him, Pruitt did not stop the attack. In fact, Heichel called out for Jennifer to help him and Jennifer refused. Heichel was stabbed 27 times.
Prosecuting attorney, Tricia Dare, made a good argument to the court...
"She (Pruitt) was just shy of 17, she knew right from wrong".
Yet, that is what people are concerned about, she was just shy of 17, plus she did not commit the murder. In fact, Pruitt has done a lot of good for others while she has been behind bars.
- Helps other prisoners overcome substance abuse problems
- mediates disputes between inmates
- mentors young people on the dangers of getting involved in a crime.
It should be noted that the original Judge who sentenced Pruitt was in the court room last week recommending Pruitt's release, as is the warden of the prison she is currently housed at.
Also the Michigan State law about murder is that punishment is a minimum of 25 years. Pruitt has currently served 24 years.
So, what do you think? Should she be released as a millionaire, not pay restitution, and start a new life? We would love to hear your opinion!